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Their daily consumption comes up to a whopping 16,000 calories.This process is usually done during school holidays or in the rainy season when milk is plentiful.Stretch marks, known as ‘tebtath’ were seen as a woman’s jewels.‘Lekhwassar’, which is fat around the waist, was given lyrical pride.In recent times, however, things were slowly starting to look better for the women of Mauritania. We had achieved a parliamentary quota of 20% seats. The military have set us back by decades, sending us back to our traditional roles,” says Mint Ely, about the military coup in 2008. Ten years ago we ran information campaigns about the dangers of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.The government even commissioned ballads condemning fattening.” But things went back to they were again since General Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz seized power after the elected president tried to sack him.So to make sure no other woman can ever have room, girls are sent away for Leblouh at special farms where older women will administer the necessary diet.It’s rather appalling to know that 5, 7 and 9-year-olds are expected to consume a daily diet of two kilos of pounded millet mixed with two cups of butter and 20 liters of camel’s milk.
If successful, the fattening process will cause a 12-year-old child to weigh 80kg. “By the age of 15, she will look 30.” As strange as it seems, the practice of Leblouh is a respected ancient tradition in Mauritania.
As Tijanniya, a 14-year-old puts it, “I don’t think fat is beautiful.
In Mauritania, 66% of the population live below the poverty line.
“When I left school in 1980, it would have been unthinkable for me to go abroad to study.
But now, 30 years later, my daughter is doing her master’s degree in France.