The Chatouilleuses Movement: Gender and Violence in Political Action in Mayotte (1966-1976)

By Mamaye Idriss

A symbol of the fight for Mayotte to maintain its ties to France, tickle torture was a form of collective action invented by women from Mayotte in 1966 after one of the members of the territorial authorities showed them a lack of respect. Inversing the typical relationship of domination, tickle torture is an example of an act of violence perpetrated by women against men. This form of violence could also target women who were opposed to the political views of the ‘chatouilleuses’ (ticklers), who were protesting against the transfer of the capital to Moroni on the island of Grande Comore and who were defending the conversion of Mayotte into a French département. As a euphemism, the term ‘tickling’ contributed to covering up the violence perpetrated by these women and by the men that were their allies. It was also representative of the actions by women militants of the MPM (Mahoré People’s Movement), which became a repressive protest movement.

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