New Lives for Ndyuka Women: “Everything’s Changed but the Men”

In: Maroon Cosmopolitics
Author: Diane Vernon

This chapter scans the evolving position of Ndyuka women from the 1970’s through the first decade of the new millieum. Since the 80’s, demographic explosion and mothers’ concerns for child education have added female migration to the coast to that of men ; the Surinamese civil war offered them new roles as hustlers, introducing extra-territorial mobility and the French social system has supplied single mothers obtaining papers with a living independent of men. Important absence of both sexes from the forest villages and their dispersal over two nations has weakened lineage control over mariages and therefore the protection of women. Seen from the French side where male and female migration to Saint Laurent du Maroni over the last thirty years has raised the city’s population from roughly 5000 in 1980 to 40 000 in 2010, the resulting life profiles for Ndyuka women now show high variation and unpredictability in their situations and their mentalities.