"When I got pregnant, all my dreams were destroyed, my studies, my whole life."
When Moussouba found out she was pregnant, she cried all day. She had known about contraception, but because she was told it was for married women, she assumed single girls couldn’t get pregnant.
Aged just 16 and unmarried, Moussouba was terrified of what the local community would say about her, and what her family would think. In Senegal, where sex before marriage is considered taboo by many, for a young woman an unplanned pregnancy is nothing short of a disaster.
“When I got pregnant, I felt ashamed. It’s very difficult to have a baby without getting married here. My mother didn’t accept it, and she refused to talk to me. I was studying and when I got pregnant I had to stop my studies. I didn’t like to leave the house because there were so many eyes on me.”
Shunned and insulted by her family, and forced to leave education, Moussouba turned to her boyfriend Malang. Moussouba’s family had always disapproved of their relationship – they thought Malang, a local musician two years her senior, was only interested in a good time– but he surprised everyone.
“It was very, very tough,” Malang says. “I was upset. I couldn’t concentrate on my music or continue with my studies. When it happened I was in my first year at university, but you know when something happens to you, you have to stand up and fight. I had to take care of my family”
Malang left university so that he could earn money to support Moussouba and their son. After the challenges they had faced together, the young couple decided to start using contraception so they could avoid further pregnancies until they were in a stronger position financially.
“I didn’t know a lot about contraception,” says Malang, “but we agreed that, right after giving birth, she can meet the Marie Stopes team; just to avoid what happened from happening again.”
"Here in Senegal it’s good to help the youth in general, because the youth are the future of tomorrow.”
For Moussouba, her new contraceptive implant represents more than the three years it will protect her from the risk of pregnancy; it is the key to her dreams of building a career for herself.
“I want to get a job, to be responsible. I don’t want to have to rely on my husband, staying at home just waiting for him. I want more children, but not right now, in a few years. Working is everything.”
The couple have been inspired by their experiences to inform other Senegalese young people about the benefits of contraception. Malang has even written a song about family planning, which he performs at local venues to educate their peers. Moussouba explains how important it is.
“Here in Sedhiou young girls don’t know about contraception and therefore the song is very important. In early marriages you can encounter difficulties, and early pregnancies are very tough. Here in Senegal it’s good to help the youth in general, because the youth are the future of tomorrow.”
Moussouba and Malang's story is featured in a graphic novel, which features four young people from East Africa, West Africa and Asia, who have been inspired by their own experiences of unintended pregnancy to fight the stigma and explode the myths around contraception and sex and help other young people avoid the same fate. No More Fairy Tales highlights the many challenges that millions of adolescents worldwide face in accessing contraception, and how a new generation of young people are saying enough is enough.No More Fairy Tales