Tunisia: Female Migrants Subject To Racism and Violence

North Africa

Women fleeing conflict and hardships in other parts of Africa are facing racism and violence as they seek shelter in Tunisia.

Recent research conducted on the topic of African migrants who have sought shelter in Tunisia has shown that a large proportion of the migrants, especially women, have experienced some form of racism and/or violence in the country.

The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights released a report in which it outlined cases of sub-Saharan women who discussed the various human rights violations they have faced in Tunisia.

The study involved qualitative-based researched that involved interviews with 26 migrant women between the ages of 18-45 as well as six women aged 15-17. The backgrounds of the women ranged from those who were workers, students or trafficked women. They also came from a variety of countries: Ivory-Cost, Mali, Senegal, Central African Republic, Cameroon and Niger.

Their reasons for travelling to Tunisia ranged from those who sought physical shelter and security to those who went in search of jobs and higher education.

In the report, a range of actors who committed the violence against the women is listed. This list includes the public authorities, employers and local citizens. The type of violence inflicted on the women largely depended on who was committing the violence.

For instance, the public authorities are more likely to use brute force in their treatment of the migrant women. Employers are more likely to demoralise the migrant women by enforcing oppressive working conditions, although there have been instances of employers also subjecting the women to physical and even sexual abuse. Ordinary citizens were found to hurl insults at the women on the street and to refuse to rent out their apartments to them.

The violence committed against the migrant women carries with it both racist and sexist undertones, according to the stories told by the women themselves.

The report seeks to shed light on these human rights abuses and to bring the attention of other organisations as well as the Tunisian authorities to these cases of severe discrimination.

The status of women in Tunisian society and politics has generally seen improvement over the last few years, however, the treatment of migrant women is a separate issue with its own dynamics that require resolving.