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Confined to precarity : The Ivorian Vendors of Tunis

In the northern suburbs of Tunis, a small group of Ivorian women set up shop in a market run by Tunisian men. Over time, by selling products from their country of origin, these women have become an anchor for the growing local sub-Saharan community. With the market closing during the Covid-19 pandemic, these women were thrown into precariousness.
25 September 2020
inkystories [{"user_id":"1410","role":"Article and Voice acting"},{"user_id":"1429","role":"Sound"},{"user_id":"1472","role":"Editing and mixing"},{"user_id":"1517","role":"Musique"},{"user_id":"1363","role":"Illustration"}] https://inkyfada.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/inkystories-confined-to-precarity.mp3 https://inkyfada.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/inkystories-Confined-to-precarity-ar.srt https://inkyfada.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/inkystories-confined-to-precarity-fr.srt https://inkyfada.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/inkystories-Confined-to-precarity-en.srt Vendeuses ivoiriennes à Tunis, confinées dans la précarité - بائعات إيفواريات في تونس: حجر في الهشاشة Vendeuses ivoiriennes à Tunis, confinées dans la précarité - بائعات إيفواريات في تونس: حجر في الهشاشة Dans la banlieue nord de Tunis, un petit groupe de femmes, principalement ivoiriennes, s’est installé un matin dans un marché principalement géré par des hommes tunisiens. Avec le temps, en vendant des produits de leur pays d'origine, ces femmes sont devenues un point d'ancrage pour la communauté subsaharienne, grandissante dans le quartier. Avec la fermeture du marché pendant l’épidémie du Covid-19. ces vendeuses ont été plongées dans un confinement précaire. في وقت مبكر من صباح يوم الأحد في الضاحية الشمالية لتونس، تقوم مجموعة من النساء - معظمهنّ من ساحل العاج - بتركيب منصّة للبيع في سوق بوسلسلة الصاخب. وسط حشد من الباعة التّونسيّين الذّكور، تعرض هؤلاء النساء منتجات من أوطانهن راسيات بذلك أوّل نواة للمجتمع الجنوب صحراوي في الحيّ. يوم 22 مارس، أُغلق السّوق ومُنع انتصاب الباعة بسبب الوباء. هذه قصصهـن طيلة أسابيع عسيرة من الحجر الصّحّي المتواصل.
Created by
Inkyfada Podcast
Article and Voice acting
Yasmin Houamed
Sound
Bochra Triki
Editing and mixing
Yassine Kawana
Musique
Omar Aloulou
Illustration
Marwen Ben Mustapha

[This article is read in English, in its original version].

The Sunday market in Bousalsla always follows the same procedures. Several generations of vendors fill the car park with their seemingly endless spiel: " Come along ladies! God blesses my first customers!" A swarm of determined shoppers perform a frenetic dance to find the cheapest clothes and vegetables in the initial section of the market. Others delve deeper into the crowd to find the more exclusive clothing. The light shifts from blue to red as the sun shines through the red plastic tents of the ephemeral market.

Over the past few years, Bousalsla market has slowly but steadily undergone a transformation, so discreet in fact that no locals are able to pinpoint when it happened. Between 2012 and 2016, several women, primarily from Côte d’Ivoire, joined the regular lineup of vendors.

Every Sunday, on the path that separates the initial from the inner parts of the market, these women cover the ground with textiles on which they display packets of spices, pasta, medicinal herbs etc. These hand-wrapped goods originate from the places that they used to call ‘ home’.

Since the restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 were introduced in March, the market in Bousalsla closed down. Only a few weeds have grown where tents and kiosks once stood. These women, like many other undocumented sub-Saharan women, were left to fend for themselves, without any source of income, social security, or legal protection. Three female Ivorian vendors and two of their customers share their firsthand stories of what Bousalsla market meant to them, and how the confinement and restrictions have affected their lives and plans for the future. 

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