Married looking for affair Central African Republic

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BANGUI Thomson Reuters Foundation - Forced at 14 to marry a man 13 years her senior, Sadatou Issa was forbidden to attend school and whiled away her time looking after her children and knitting clothes to sell from her home in Boda, a town in western Central African Republic.

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On the advice of an entrepreneurial aunt, she sold off as many belongings as she could do without and used the money to travel to Nigeria where her family had connections. She returned with two sewing machines, dozens of rolls of bright thread, reams of fabric - and a business plan to open her own clothing boutique.

Today, she employs local women as seamstresses, teaches sewing, and helps out as a first aid volunteer in the community. They are also encouraging girls to get as good an education as possible, regardless of marriage. In recent years, spurred on by the hardship of conflict and poverty, more Muslim women are trying to earn a living by making home-made soap and cakes, or running market stalls selling small bags of coal, fresh produce and crafts. Together with the U. A few years ago, PK5, named for its location 5 km 3 miles west of Bangui city center, was a lively Muslim quarter in a predominantly Christian city.

By night, PK5 hosted vibrant dancing ensembles and music acts. But the outbreak of conflict in shattered the peaceful coexistence of different religious groups in the city.

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Muslim-majority Seleka fighters deposed then President Francois Bozize and went on a killing spree, triggering revenge atrocities against Muslims by Christian and animist fighters known as anti-Balaka. PK5 became a Muslim ghetto.

The market stalls were shuttered, the concert halls fell silent, and a terrified, traumatized Muslim community closed in on itself.

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Some essential facilities, including schools and clinics, shut temporarily. Today, as the community starts to recover amid relative calm, the women of PK5 are seizing the opportunity to change their situation. Ramane Ousmane, unable to finish school after being married off aged 13, puts great emphasis on learning for her children, with two daughters in 9th and 11th grade. Having obtained her high-school diploma as an adult, studying every day after work, Ousmane gives her children extra lessons at home using a small blackboard.

Changing mindsets is the first step, said Ousmane.

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Women in PK5 are beginning to realize that staying at home limits choices for themselves and their children, she said. But many obstacles to their advancement remain, both within the Muslim community and society at large. Moukadasse said a new generation is emerging in PK5. Mother supervising her teenage daughter doing biology homework in Bangui, Central African Republic on January 17,

Married looking for affair Central African Republic

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