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Open Access Research article

The role of the healthcare sector in the prevention of sexual violence against sub-Saharan transmigrants in Morocco: a study of knowledge, attitudes and practices of healthcare workers

Seline van den Ameele1*, Ines Keygnaert1, Alima Rachidi2, Kristien Roelens1 and Marleen Temmerman1

Author affiliations

1 ICRH- International Centre for Reproductive Health, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, Ghent University, De Pintelaan 185 - P3, Ghent, 9000, Belgium

2 AFVIC – L’Association des Amis et Familles des Victimes de l’Immigration Clandestine, Casablanca, Morocco

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Citation and License

BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:77  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-77

Published: 25 February 2013

Abstract

Background

Sub-Saharan transmigrants in Morocco are extremely vulnerable to sexual violence. From a public health perspective, the healthcare system is globally considered an important partner in the prevention of sexual violence. The aim of this study is twofold. In a first phase, we aimed to identify the current role and position of the Moroccan healthcare sector in the prevention of sexual violence against sub-Saharan transmigrants. In a second phase, we wanted these results and available guidelines to be the topic of a participatory process with local stakeholders in order to formulate recommendations for a more desirable prevention of sexual violence against sub-Saharan transmigrants by the Moroccan healthcare sector.

Methods

Knowledge, attitudes and practices of healthcare workers in Morocco concerning sexual violence against sub-Saharan transmigrants and its prevention were firstly explored in semi-structured interviews after which they were discussed in a participatory process resulting in the formulation of recommendations.

Results

All participants (n=24) acknowledged the need for desirable prevention of sexual violence against transmigrants. Furthermore, important barriers in tertiary prevention practices, i.e. psychosocial and judicial referral and long-term follow-up, and in secondary prevention attitudes, i.e. active identification of victims were identified. Moreover, existing services for Moroccan victims of sexual violence currently do not address the sub-Saharan population. Thus, transmigrants are bound to rely on the aid of civil society.

Conclusions

This research demonstrates the low accessibility of existing Moroccan services for sub-Saharan migrants. In particular, there is an absence of prevention initiatives addressing sexual violence against the sub-Saharan transmigrant population. Although healthcare workers do wish to develop prevention initiatives, they are dealing with structural difficulties and a lack of expertise. Recommendations adapted to the context of sub-Saharan transmigrants in Morocco are suggested.

Keywords:
Sub-Saharan migrants; Morocco; Sexual violence; Health services; Prevention