By Francisca Smiso
“We gave some guys some money to help us cross through Limpopo bush to Messina. There were about 19 of us in the quantum we were travelling , but at least 12 documented people remained in the taxi. In the bush we were mixed with other people from other taxis and our group grew to at least 23 people both male and female. The man helping us to cross monitored the movement and they would stop the group if suspecting something, check around and they’ll tell you ,let’s go, move . They moved very fast that most woman and girls fell down but have no time to check themselves because you have to keep up with the group’’ [Male 1]
“Once we passed some lady who was lying on the ground, we suspected she was dead the guys helping us through said just keep on moving this place is dangerous you might not know what will happen. We went through the dark forest in fear, it was a very bad experience’’ [ Female 1]
Amongst these are cases of rape and robbery reported in the bushes during border jumping. It is an activity that will require both physical and emotional strength. It is one of those lifetime moments that will reveal ones vulnerability. You will be exposed to hunger, cold weather, risk of diseases and animal attacks. It’s more or less survival of the fittest. Always there will be a group labeled the vulnerable group, and from my own point of view it’s mostly the females. Therefore it can be argued that migration is a highly gendered phenomenon.
Over and above the other hardships that have to be overcome during the process, women are also at greater risk of falling prey to human trafficking, rape and are easy targets for violence. The migration of women endangers the well being of their families that they have left behind, leading to child headed families. As a result, these children are negatively affected in areas such as health, social relations and education. This situation also negatively impacts family cohesion.
Women find themselves migrating to other countries in search of greener pastures, which has been traditionally labeled as a male venture. Regardless of the risk attached to illegal migration, the number of female illegal migrants population has increased. After the journey and upon arrival at their destination, women are often faced with more hardships and challenges. Employment is scarce, so they are easily lured by human traffickers who offer them false promises or assistance. Even when they do find employment, cases of sexual harassment and violation of rights by employers are common.
Unfair treatment, harassment and discrimination are barriers not only faced by the low skilled women; highly skilled females can also relate to most of these situations. Amongst other goals, these women leave their countries to further their studies, but frequently find their efforts limited by lack of recognition for the qualifications, rigorous certification programmes, employment limitations, tough rules to gain residents permits, and discrimination based on gender.
The world is quickly evolving, and women have to constantly change their way of life.Understanding the migration of women is particularly important, as they are exposed to different lifestyles which can change their lives and those of generations to come. This article has explored the obstacles faced by women during migration, but men also go through though times en-route, mid-migration and post-migration.
Though they do not face the same kinds of risks as their female counterparts, men also have difficulty in obtaining resources and have minimum opportunities. They sometimes fail to obtain basic necessities like accommodation and food. One of the men who confided to this article said that at times on Tuesdays and Wednesdays he goes to an Anglican church for bread and soup, as he cannot find employment. They are also faced with the similar situations as women, such exploitation and coercion due to their migration status.
As much as it is difficult to create jobs for the existing population in a country, the cohesion between the citizens of a country and the migrants will forever be experienced. Government is fully aware of the situation and at the moment no solution has been given. I would suggest that the organizations representing migrants call for grants be given to immigrants until they are settled and able to support themselves, and that they are supported with the necessary education so they are aware of the risk they take and challenges awaiting them in their land of milk and honey.