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Project MonMa in Madagascar

Project Monma travelled to Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world, to learn more about human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and girls.

Whilst there is little available information on the situation of human trafficking and prostitution in Madagascar, it has been reported that many young women and girls have been tricked into prostitution when going to work abroad, unaware of the realities that they would face. Trafficking and prostitution are also widespread within Madagascar.

One of the driving factors of trafficking and sexual exploitation throughout Madagascar is the widespread poverty throughout the country. Without sufficient economic opportunities, many women and girls travel overseas, making them vulnerable to traffickers.

In many cases, families unable to afford to support their girls send them to a ‘recruiter’, thinking she is going to find work. However, these recruiters are actually often traffickers and the women and girls end up being sold.
In other cases, women and girls travel predominantly to the Gulf countries looking for work and upon arrival report threats and sexual abuse from employers.

 

In an interview, a minister from the Ministry of Population and Social Protection and Women’s protection in Antananarivo said that the situation was so bad that they created the ministry to prevent abuse related to migration.

‘When Madagascy people are sent overseas they think that they are going to have a job but there are cases where they’re not paid. The employers are supposed to give them a return ticket but sometimes they don’t do this. They take their passports and because they don’t know about the country its really difficult for them to go to the police or do anything.’

There is little protection from police or law enforcement due to the widespread corruption throughout the country. 

Much sexual exploitation and trafficking also takes place inside the country where it is both foreigners and Madagascy who are participating in the exploitation.

Daniel Silva from the International Organization of Migration (IOM) said, ‘its happening all around the country. In Tamatave for example, you find a lot of sexual exploitation of young girls by local men because this is culturally what they prefer.’

In a UNICEF sponsored study, it was found that between 30 and 50 percent of all sex workers in two of the country’s main cities, the small island of Nose Be and Tamatave, were children under the age of eighteen.

Nose Be in the north of the country has become known as one of the primary destinations for sex tourism. Local bars line up along the sandy beach which are frequented by sex tourists from Europe as well as Madagasy men. Many of the girls in the bars look barely over 18.

A local man working in a hotel in Nose Be, said that prostitution is rife throughout the city. He explained young girls can easily obtain a fake ID card, which has meant that it is easy to bypass restrictions on the participation of minors in the sex industry. 

The prostitution was blatantly visible and was explained as being a big business for everyone, including the police.

Silva said that in order to stop the problem of human trafficking in Madagascar there has to be alternatives. ‘There are cases where as soon as the girls turn 12 or 13 the parents put them in French or Italian classes so that they are able to work as prostitutes and speak with the clients. It’s shocking because it’s not hidden. It’s big business for everyone, the hotels owners, the police. There’s no punishment of these men at the moment, its completely unacceptable.’

Little is being done to curb the problem with prostitution being a big business said Neannie Berthina from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Antananarivo, shaking her head she said, ‘it’s a shame because of this corruption.’

Much is needed to be done to address the issues driving trafficking and sexual exploitation in the country. It is also essential that the attitudes that allow the sexual exploitation of women and young girls to take place so publically needs to be challenged.

Human trafficking and sexual exploitation are always wrong and must never be tolerated.

Project MonMa in Madagascar

Project Monma travelled to Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world, to learn more about human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and girls.

Whilst there is little available information on the situation of human trafficking and prostitution in Madagascar, it has been reported that many young women and girls have been tricked into prostitution when going to work abroad, unaware of the realities that they would face. Trafficking and prostitution are also widespread within Madagascar.

One of the driving factors of trafficking and sexual exploitation throughout Madagascar is the widespread poverty throughout the country. Without sufficient economic opportunities, many women and girls travel overseas, making them vulnerable to traffickers.

In many cases, families unable to afford to support their girls send them to a ‘recruiter’, thinking she is going to find work. However, these recruiters are actually often traffickers and the women and girls end up being sold. In other cases, women and girls travel predominantly to the Gulf countries looking for work and upon arrival report threats and sexual abuse from employers.

In an interview, a minister from the Ministry of Population and Social Protection and Women’s protection in Antananarivo said that the situation was so bad that they created the ministry to prevent abuse related to migration.

‘When Madagascy people are sent overseas they think that they are going to have a job but there are cases where they’re not paid. The employers are supposed to give them a return ticket but sometimes they don’t do this. They take their passports and because they don’t know about the country its really difficult for them to go to the police or do anything.’

There is little protection from police or law enforcement due to the widespread corruption throughout the country. 

Much sexual exploitation and trafficking also takes place inside the country where it is both foreigners and Madagascy who are participating in the exploitation.

Daniel Silva from the International Organization of Migration (IOM) said, ‘its happening all around the country. In Tamatave for example, you find a lot of sexual exploitation of young girls by local men because this is culturally what they prefer.’

In a UNICEF sponsored study, it was found that between 30 and 50 percent of all sex workers in two of the country’s main cities, the small island of Nose Be and Tamatave, were children under the age of eighteen.

Nose Be in the north of the country has become known as one of the primary destinations for sex tourism. Local bars line up along the sandy beach which are frequented by sex tourists from Europe as well as Madagasy men. Many of the girls in the bars look barely over 18.

A local man working in a hotel in Nose Be, said that prostitution is rife throughout the city. He explained young girls can easily obtain a fake ID card, which has meant that it is easy to bypass restrictions on the participation of minors in the sex industry. 

The prostitution was blatantly visible and was explained as being a big business for everyone, including the police.

Silva said that in order to stop the problem of human trafficking in Madagascar there has to be alternatives. ‘There are cases where as soon as the girls turn 12 or 13 the parents put them in French or Italian classes so that they are able to work as prostitutes and speak with the clients. It’s shocking because it’s not hidden. It’s big business for everyone, the hotels owners, the police. There’s no punishment of these men at the moment, its completely unacceptable.’

Little is being done to curb the problem with prostitution being a big business said Neannie Berthina from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Antananarivo, shaking her head she said, ‘it’s a shame because of this corruption.’

Much is needed to be done to address the issues driving trafficking and sexual exploitation in the country. It is also essential that the attitudes that allow the sexual exploitation of women and young girls to take place so publically needs to be challenged.

Human trafficking and sexual exploitation are always wrong and must never be tolerated.

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