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With his Cowardly Hand, He Slapped Her*

Disgusted and depressed. These are the feelings that I can express after seeing the incident that occurred yesterday at the National Assembly of Senegal. The deputy Massata Samb of Yewwi Askan Wi attacked his colleague Aminata Ndiaye of Benno Bokk Yakaar, following his intervention at the podium. Insults were being thrown and the tension had been rising in parliament since an address by MP Aminata Ndiaye who had « besmirched » the marabout and leader of the political party PUR, Serigne Moustapha Sy. Some day we will talk about the conciliation of the spiritual and temporal hats in this country and the lot of amalgams it brings about.

The controversy around the words of the lady Ndiaye has provided some material to the rentiers of tension all this week with the classic cycle of indignation, concert of insults and threats, a request for a public apology by the lady deputy and a propensity to add fuel to the fire at each passage at the podium. As a result, a Member of Parliament gets carried away, and assaults his fellow Member of Parliament in the most brutal of ways in the Chamber. This is as low as we can go in terms of desecration of a republican symbol, an illustration of politicians who think with their nerves and with an emotion that is on the edge of their skin. Having taken the time to follow the various plenary sessions for the vote of the 2023 budget in this new Parliament, I am comforted by all the lines of a column published last September (« A circus, « monkeys » and chaos »), which I could be accused of being too harsh, and bordering on a bad trial of intent of the new legislature in the National Assembly of Senegal.

The assault of the deputy Aminata Ndiaye by her colleague Massata Samb is serious for the gratuitousness of the act, for the fact that a man can stand up and attack a woman with all his strength to ‘lecture‘ her. What is this primitive form of patriarchy and phallocratic dictatorship that feels the need to beat up a woman deemed « careless » by her speech? What is more disturbing? The words of the lady Ndiaye about Serigne Moustapha Sy or the ability of a woman to freely formulate opinions? Women’s rights organisations have a lot to answer for, if in the supposedly most polite place in the country, women are beaten because of a difference of opinion. It is not surprising that femicide, rape and sexual abuse are recurrent, if the representatives of the nation have such a predatory attitude towards women’s bodies. Any insecure man or man with frustrated masculinity will willingly become a conscientious objector through the strength of his muscles against any lady, and this will expose all our sisters.

The columnist Hamidou Anne underlined in these columns last week a « mystique » of the Republic that is being lost in this country. Referring to the violent incidents during the installation of the fourteenth legislature, he argued that: « some of those who desecrated the Parliament on September 12 knowingly violated the sacred, because deep down, what we are as a Republic disturbs them. They embody the anti-republican current that has taken over a some in our nation and has broken into our institutions to destroy them. » His words could not be more accurate. We see before our eyes an organized enterprise dedicated to ransacking all that is symbol and lucid beacon. This is done through mob violence, and women are the first victims of this inquisition. Today, it is a slap that is inflicted to a parliamentarian.

Who knows tomorrow if a parliamentarian would not dare to stab another in the Hemicycle! One can only hope that the necessary measures will be taken to punish the incident that occurred in Parliament in a manner commensurate with the indignity of the act. The rules of procedure must be applied in all their rigour. Such a precedent must not go unpunished, because if there is an example for which we can fight violence against women in our country, it is this one. In France, a member of the National Rally (RN) was expelled from Parliament for two weeks for a racist remark against another member. We expect no less from the Senegalese Parliament.

For two centuries (16th to 17th), Europe allowed itself to execute between 50,000 and 200,000 women in its famous « witch hunt ». Aristotle thought that the male fetus was given a soul after forty days, while for its female counterpart, it took a good three months. Our deputy censor, quick to correct « imprudent » or « insolent » ladies to his liking, must surely be taking in such teachings. Let’s cross our fingers so that his next victims do not turn the other cheek, after a first slap.All this, during the period of activism against violence against women, in a Parliament of ruptures!

* The title is borrowed from the illustration of a collection of tales « Fabliaux et contes du Moyen-Âge » published in 1913 which shows a man slapping a lady with the following description: « With his rough hand, he applied a blow to her. At that time, the stories of beaten women made people laugh. We can’t say that times have changed much.

By Serigne Saliou DIAGNE / saliou.diagne@lequotidien.sn

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