Smugglers in Sub-Saharan Africa injecting underage migrant girls with contraceptives

TMP – 20/02/2017

People smugglers in sub-Saharan Africa are injecting underage migrant girls with a harmful contraceptive, due to the very high risk that they will be raped on their journey from Africa to Europe.

Humanitarian groups working in key European entry points for migrants, such as on the Italian island of Lampedusa, have reported that many of the migrant girls, some as young as 13 years, have been injected with a three-month contraceptive.

Smugglers are injecting the girls with contraceptives before they start their journey to cross the Sahara desert. Helen Rodriguez, a gynecologist working with one humanitarian group in Lampedusa said, “They know they are very likely to be raped on route so they have these injections in Ethiopia or Sudan to not get pregnant.”

Dr. Rodriguez further added that regardless of the physical predicament these girls face on route, the injection can have a devastating health effect. As they are too young to safely acquire it, they could reach menopause prematurely. Nearly a fifth of the Eritrean girls seen by Dr. Rodriguez were not menstruating because of the injections.

Most of the underage girls are from Eritrea, South Sudan and Somalia.

To get to Europe from Sub-Saharan Africa, the risk of rape and extortion facing migrants is very high. A 2016 Human Rights Watch report showed that 75% of illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa had been subjected to various physical and sexual violence committed by smugglers, traffickers and middlemen before they reached Europe.