The stories of women migrants making the desperate Mediterranean crossing to Europe are different from those of the men, marked by a higher level of exploitation and abuse. Lucia Benavides reports from Spain.
On the last leg of her long and perilous journey to Europe, Joy Good was eight months pregnant. Fortunately, she was rescued from a rubber dinghy bobbing off the coast of Spain last August.
The 20-year-old had started her trip to Spain from a small Nigerian village two years earlier. She says life there was tough for a young woman like her, especially after her first pregnancy – a result of a rape when she was just 15 years old.
‘I left because I don’t have help,’ said Good. ‘I don’t have anyone.’
Both of her parents died when she was young. So, as soon as she gave birth to the child – a girl – Good handed her over to neighbours in the village. Then she headed north, hoping to find better opportunities in Europe.
But the journey proved more difficult than she had anticipated.
‘The police [at the Morocco-Algeria border] would see us and they said they wanted to make love to us,’ said Good, referring to the other women travelling alongside her. ‘They beat everybody. They always beat. They also beat me.’
Good has a difficult time talking about her journey. She often stops to rub her face with her hands, take a deep breath and look at me as if asking when the questions will stop. When she brings up the father of the unborn child – a boy, whom she planned to keep – she says he stayed behind in Morocco.
Good is just one of many women who crossed into Spain last summer, eventually making it to Malaga and applying for asylum. She has qualified for a six-month governmental programme that provides shelter, Spanish classes and other immersion activities.