Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Globalization and Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research

Sexual violence and sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco: a community-based participatory assessment using respondent driven sampling

Ines Keygnaert1*, Abdessamad Dialmy2, Altay Manço3, Jeroen Keygnaert1, Nicole Vettenburg4, Kristien Roelens1 and Marleen Temmerman1

Author Affiliations

1 ICRH- Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, Ghent University, De Pintelaan 185 UZP114, Ghent 9000, Belgium

2 Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences, University Mohammed V, 34 rue Sebou Agdal, Rabat 10090, Morocco

3 Institute of Research, Training and Action on Migration (IRFAM), 17 Rue Agimont, Liège 4000, Belgium

4 Department of Social Welfare Studies, Ghent University, H. Dunantlaan 2, Ghent 9000, Belgium

For all author emails, please log on.

Globalization and Health 2014, 10:32  doi:10.1186/1744-8603-10-32

Published: 8 May 2014

First paragraph (this article has no abstract)

In 2008 as in 2005, Morocco estimated that around 60.000 foreigners were regularly residing on its territory, predominantly from European (47%) and Algerian (19%) origin [1,2]. In addition, official estimates of sub-Saharan irregular migration in Morocco varied between 10.000 in 2005 [1]; 15.000 in 2007 [2]; and 4.500 in 2010 [3] for a total population of nearly 32 million. The sub-Saharan migrants present in Morocco in 2008 originated of about 40 different countries with the most numerous being from Nigerian (15.7%), Malian (13.1%), Senegalese (12.9%) and Congolese (10.4%) origin [4]. The vast majority of them were male (79.7%) and relatively young (95.4% under the age of 36) [4], were employed in their countries of origin (76%) and more than half (56%) had completed secondary or higher education [5]. Estimates of their dispersion in Morocco in 2008, indicated that about 3000 sub-Saharan migrants were living in Rabat, 2000 in Casablanca, 600 in Oujda and Laayoune and 300 in Tangiers [4].

Keywords:
Sexual violence; Rape; Prevention; Migrants; Morocco; Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR); Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS); European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)

Abstract

Background

The European Union contracted Morocco to regulate migration from so-called “transit migrants” from Morocco to Europe via the European Neighbourhood Policy. Yet, international organisations signal that human, asylum and refugee rights are not upheld in Morocco and that many sub-Saharan migrants suffer from ill-health and violence. Hence, our study aimed at 1) investigating the nature of violence that sub-Saharan migrants experience around and in Morocco, 2) assessing which determinants they perceive as decisive and 3) formulating prevention recommendations.

Methods

Applying Community-Based Participatory Research, we trained twelve sub-Saharan migrants as Community Researchers to conduct in-depth interviews with peers, using Respondent Driven Sampling. We used Nvivo 8 to analyse the data. We interpreted results with Community Researchers and the Community Advisory Board and commonly formulated prevention recommendations.

Results

Among the 154 (60 F-94 M) sub-Saharan migrants interviewed, 90% reported cases of multiple victimizations, 45% of which was sexual, predominantly gang rape. Seventy-nine respondents were personally victimized, 41 were forced to witness how relatives or co-migrants were victimized and 18 others knew of peer victimisation. Severe long lasting ill-health consequences were reported while sub-Saharan victims are not granted access to the official health care system. Perpetrators were mostly Moroccan or Algerian officials and sub-Saharan gang leaders who function as unofficial yet rigorous migration professionals at migration ‘hubs’. They seem to proceed in impunity. Respondents link risk factors mainly to their undocumented and unprotected status and suggest that migrant communities set-up awareness raising campaigns on risks while legal and policy changes enforcing human rights, legal protection and human treatment of migrants along with severe punishment of perpetrators are politically lobbied for.

Conclusion

Sub-Saharan migrants are at high risk of sexual victimization and subsequent ill-health in and around Morocco. Comprehensive cross-border and multi-level prevention actions are urgently called for. Given the European Neighbourhood Policy, we deem it paramount that the European Union politically cares for these migrants’ lives and health, takes up its responsibility, drastically changes migration regulation into one that upholds human rights beyond survival and enforces all authorities involved to restore migrants’ lives worthy to be lived again.

Résumé

Contexte

Dans le cadre de sa politique de voisinage, l’Union Européenne tente, en partenariat avec le Maroc, de réguler la migration irrégulière de « transit ». Toutefois, les organisations humanitaires signalent que de nombreux migrants subsahariens souffrent de violence et d’une mauvaise santé. Notre étude vise à 1) étudier la nature des violences que les migrants subsahariens subissent au et dans le voisinage du Maroc, 2) en identifier les déterminants tels que perçus par les migrants, 3) formuler des recommandations de prévention.

Méthodes

En appliquant des méthodes de recherche participatives, nous avons formé douze migrants subsahariens en tant que chercheurs communautaires afin de conduire des entretiens approfondis, en utilisant la technique d’échantillonnage dirigé par les répondants. Nous avons analysés les données avec Nvivo8. Les résultats ont été interprétés avec le conseil communautaire du projet. Des recommandations de prévention ont été formulées.

Résultats

Parmi les 154 (60 F – 94H) migrants subsahariens interrogés, 90% ont signalé des cas de victimisation multiple, la moitié à caractère sexuel, principalement des viols collectifs. Au total, 89 répondants ont personnellement été victimes, 41 ont été forcés d’assister aux violences subies par leurs parents ou compagnons de voyage et 18 ont rapporté des situations vécues par des pairs. Les victimes subissent les séquelles de ces violences sur le long terme, alors qu’elles n’ont pas accès au système de santé marocain. Les auteurs des violences sont essentiellement des fonctionnaires, ou des chefs de gangs qui contrôlent les points de frontière. Ils semblent procéder en toute impunité. Les témoins lient les facteurs de risque notamment à leur situation irrégulière et à leur manque de protection.

Conclusion

Au Maroc, les migrants subsahariens sont à haut risque de victimisation sexuelle. Il est urgent de mettre en œuvre des actions transfrontalières de prévention à divers niveaux. Compte tenu de sa politique de voisinage, nous estimons que l’Union Européenne doit se soucier des menaces encourues par ces migrants. Elle doit prendre ses responsabilités et changer sa politique migratoire afin de respecter elle-même les droits fondamentaux et la dignité de ces groupes, ainsi que d’inciter l’ensemble des autorités concernées à faire de même.