In Madagascar 84% Of Students Have Reported Being Victims Of Sextortion

In Madagascar 84% Of Students Have Reported Being Victims Of Sextortion

A 2021 report from Transparency International Madagascar ran the alarm on a growing crisis of rape and sexual assault in academia: as stunning 84% of Malagasy Students have reported being victims of "Sexual Corruption" also known as sextortion or coerced rape.
The report described a country devastated by endemic corruption at all levels of the National Education system. Bribes, abuse of power, favoritism, nepotism, and even fake diplomas were perpetrated by the DREN (Regional Directorate of National Education).

What is Sextortion?

Sexual corruption also known as Sextortion is as defined by the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), the abuse of power to obtain a sexual benefit or advantage. As such, it is a form of corruption in which sex, rather than money, is the currency of the bribe. "It can be found wherever those entrusted with power lack integrity and try to sexually exploit those who are vulnerable and dependent on their power." In Madagascar the teachers sextort struggling students, often children, by offering them a good mark in exchange for sex or to be raped. The sexual component of sextortion arises from a request or demand - whether implicit or explicit - to engage in any kind of unwanted sexual activity, ranging from sexual intercourse, coerced rape, or exposing intimate bodily parts. A corruption component arises when a criminal seeking a sexual favor occupies a position of authority, which they abuse by demanding, or accepting, a sexual favor in exchange for exercising the power entrusted to them.

Fear of reprisal

This crime is escalating in the country due to impunity and fear. Fear of possible reprisals, such as demotion, withholding of benefits, failing grades, or even being fired, is the main obstacle to the effective fight against sextortion. "During our investigation, we were confronted with the omerta of the victims who did not dare to give the name of the instigators or even the name of the establishments in which it happened," underlines Liantsoa Rakotoarivelo, the person in charge of the fight against corruption project within Transparency International Initiative Madagascar. "Sexual corruption has become commonplace. We found during our investigations that parents of pupils, students, and teachers themselves are aware of sexual corruption in universities and schools. It has become almost a must for students who want to finish their school or university course." Liantsoa Rakotoarivelo explained. 

Impunity For The Culprits

The impunity installed in the country is one of the core issues that enables this crime, making it more difficult to pursue the criminals. The Confederation of Teachers' Unions called out a coverup of the crime and denounced "the existence of a network for the protection of guilty teachers within the Ministry of Higher Education." The prosecution of culprits and their removal from the public service is currently extremely rare. There are no laws on the island that specifically deal with sexual corruption also known as sextortion. Meanwhile Law 2016.020 which was created to fight against corruption is still too far removed from the specific horrors students have to endure. In addition to a section dedicated to sexual corruption also known as sextortion in a needed future law, raising awareness about the topic can encourage victims to lose their fear and communities to support them.
Where do we go 
Transparency International Initiative Madagascar recommends greater awareness of the population on this form of crime and advocates for the inclusion of prevention workshops in schools and universities. The association also plans to develop a "Body Integrity Pact" for teachers and students, which schools must ratify. Unfortunately, such behaviors rooted deeply into the country are going to be hard to remove fast. It is crucial to highlight those crimes and put pressure on political leaders to bind them to end this horrific situation.