One in three girl migrants interviewed in North Africa experienced or witnessed sexual abuse or other forms of gender-based violence while fleeing their home countries to find safety, according to a new study released by Save the Children today.
The study, titled ‘Girls on the Move in North Africa’, that set out to address the rarely researched topic of girl migrants, found many girls fled their homes due to violence, lack of job prospects as well as family conflicts and exposure to abuse and forced marriage, but then faced more threats and dangers on their journeys to or through North Africa.
Disasters, conflict, and violence have led to record numbers of people leaving their home countries, and around 281 million people across the world are international migrants. The Middle East and North Africa is home to the largest number of international child migrants – and the number of girls on the move is increasing.
Research conducted by Save the Children and social enterprise Samuel Hall was based on interviews held in 2022 with girls and young women between the ages of nine and 24, primarily from sub-Saharan African countries, migrating to, or through Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco – as well as arriving in Italy and Spain.
The study found that one in five of the girls interviewed cited violence in the home as a reason for migration, whilst one in seven girls mentioned fleeing to escape forced or early marriage.