A Journey to the Sea (Volume 1 of Units of Experience - The Price of Being Human)
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Main article: Virgin Hyperloop One. Main article: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. Main article: TransPod. Main article: Hyperloop pod competition. Transport portal. Retrieved August 13, Mechanical Engineering. Retrieved September 16, July 13, Retrieved July 15, August 22, Retrieved August 23, Critics Say No". The New York Times. Retrieved August 18, Al Jazeera America. The Huffington Post. June 18, The Verge.
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This violence makes the journey unpredictable. We turn now to the first site highlighted by participants. Eleven women in this study described their experiences of direct violence in the context of the desert crossing between Somalia and Libya. In our conversations with women, experiences of violence and extortion were most prominent. They have to get across the desert and there are men there, like soldiers but not. They have cars for the women and the men to get into to go across the desert but they will stop the car and rape the women over the course of the journey, which lasts about seven days.
Then new groups of women arrive and they are replaced.
If men object then they will be killed. If they pay then they can protect their wives. In this way it is more difficult for women because they take them. For some women, sexual violence is a feature of travel through the Sahara. Male partners of women are threatened with harm if they object or attempt to intervene.
Single women and women with partners may both be subject to sexual violence. Women and men face different kinds of violence. According to Sena, if men protest at the violence being carried out on women, they will be killed. Sena makes sense of this violence in characterizing it as part of the journey away from Somalia. She also spoke about being relieved that her husband was able to fly directly from Ethiopia to China, and avoid the overland journey to the EU.
They seem unaccountable to any authority for their actions. Sena claims that they look like official soldiers, but are not. We might presume from this comment that they are not government soldiers, but perhaps private militia who appear to operate with impunity. She implies that there is a degree of regularity to this kind of violence exercised throughout the Sahara Desert crossing: for example, the car will be sent back and another group taken.
This correlates with research on the regularity of border crossing as heightening exposure to violence Nagai et al. Extortion was identified by women as a feature of border crossing through the desert. Thus, the desert crossing is made possible by meeting the demands of those who would otherwise prevent their passage. It was understood by one NGO participant that women could provide sexual services or cash to secure a successful border crossing: In the desert they are stopped and they have to wire money through and that is how they guarantee passage. Those without money will provide sexual services.
They give cash or sexual favours. NGO 1. The desert crossing is depicted as one in which people are detained and prevented from continuing the journey unless they meet what seem to be specific and organized demands for money or sexual services. If women lack adequate access to finances, their bodies may become a currency. This highlights the significant industry that facilitates the mobility needs of illegalized travellers Salt and Stein Both highlight the gendered nature of violence and extortion that occurs during the crossing of the desert.
The border agents facilitating mobility across the desert expose male and female illegalized travellers to violence through differing means. Life is really in the shadows in Libya because they will put you in detention. So you have to really hide. Residing in Libya for days, months or even years necessitated a strategic approach to accommodation. One participant described the accommodation in Libya as akin to a prison. Aziza was corralled into accommodation with other illegalized travellers, where her movements were controlled by those facilitating her onward migration.
She had to negotiate to leave each day: The living situation is difficult because you are not free. There are people standing over you and you have to negotiate to leave. Some people pay money to leave, others provide sex or are raped. While around two-thirds of participants described their fear of detention and how it influenced their decisions to avoid public spaces, only two women spoke about their direct experience of detention in Libya. In both cases, the two participants were arrested while in the process of boarding a boat that was heading for the southern Member States of the EU: I was in Libya for one year and two months.
I was arrested one time and spent one month in detention. I was arrested trying to get onto a big boat to go to Europe. There were on board and 30 were arrested. I was arrested because I was in the car waiting to get on the boat. The boat eventually left and made it to Italy and the people made it to Italy. I was held in detention for nine months after being arrested.
I was about to catch a big boat. I think because it was a big boat the police heard us. The amount of time spent in detention varied for each participant. Syrad described detention in Malta as comparatively better than Libya, specifically because there was no physical abuse in the former. However, she did not elaborate on what she had experienced in Libya. Neither of the participants detained in Libya talked about rape in the detention centres, and we did not expect that participants would reveal this information.
On this point, however, NGO participants who had worked in a medical capacity with migrant women in Malta testified that women had reported rape in Libyan detention centres: Detention centres in Libya warehouse people who are illegal. The people are exploited and treated poorly and there is rape and protection sex and imprisonment. Some of the participants interviewed were able to seek and find work in Libya. Some migrants transit quickly whereas others work to fund their onward journey.
Research suggests migrant women adapt more flexibly to formal and informal markets in receiving countries, so are more likely to be the main income earner Franz ; Szczepanikova Libya was recognized by most participants as a place where women could potentially work in order to save enough money to buy a ticket on a boat to Europe: I worked in Libya for four months as a housekeeper.
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I made good money there and was able to pay to come to Europe with my husband. The stories of those who did work in Libya revealed how work opportunities were gendered. One NGO participant in this research observed that some women pay for their journey across borders through the financial gains from sex work, either actively choosing this work or coerced by the circumstances. Despite studies suggesting women are more able to adapt flexibly in informal economies, there remain a limited number of options for work available to women, which can result in them being drawn into the informal economy of sex work in order to fund their migration to the EU.
The women we interviewed did not directly discuss experiences of abuse, although some did discuss whether securing pay for their work was easier than it was for male illegalized travellers. Two participants described how men were not always paid for their work, while women had a better chance of being paid by their employers. There were lots of people on my boat to Malta. We were on the boat for three days and two nights. When we were rescued it was fantastic! We all thought we were going to die. I have lost many friends at sea. Twice my boat was turned back before I successfully arrived in Malta.
We had a driver who was very smart. He stopped the boat so we could wait out a storm. When it was clear we kept going. There is no choice when you are to get on the boat; you have to go when they tell you. All of the women participants in this research had survived the journey by sea from Libya to Malta.
There is no clear reporting or accounting system for the number of boats that go missing in the Mediterranean, a trend reflected in many securitized border zones across the globe Weber and Pickering Although migrant deaths at sea are not systematically recorded, it is estimated that around 10, migrants have perished in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans over the past two decades Weber and Pickering : Whilst fewer fled to the EU than to other neighbouring North African countries, the Arab Spring saw around 58, illegalized travellers arrive in the EU via the Mediterreanean in The Mediterranean was declared the most dangerous stretch of water in the world for refugees and migrants in with over 1, people recorded as drowned or missing trying to reach the EU UNHCR Given the huge number of deaths and the high incidence of border crossings by sea, there is arguably an increased obligation on EU Member States to ensure the safety of people who adopt this method of travel Carling ; Hamood ; Weber and Pickering Despite this, the journey was described by most refugee women in terms that evoked a sense of danger and fear: My boat had about 80 people and 12 women.
The boat took four days. I was crying, just the whole time by myself. It was bad. On the other hand, five participants said they had access to life jackets and that the journey to Malta was relatively quick: We came on a boat in to Malta. There were 40 to 50 people on board. There were six children and four women.
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There were 40 men. It was safe and we had life jackets. We were on the boat for two days. I came with my husband and eight-year-old child. I came on the boat pregnant. I came with 80 people. We had those reflector jackets. You are just sitting with your elbows pressed against other people. There is water lapping up at you. The boat journey from Libya to Malta covers a great expanse of sea navigated with rudimentary gear, according to the law enforcement participants interviewed in this study. Two participants completed the journey heavily pregnant and described it as extremely uncomfortable.
Dehydration is a particular danger for pregnant women, as other researchers have found in the context of crossings of the US—Mexico border Falcon This was also confirmed by a law enforcement officer interviewed for this research: The most terrible memory I have is of two women arriving dead on the boat and both were pregnant. The autopsies said they dehydrated. One NGO participant felt that women are at the bottom of the social hierarchy on these journeys: given the most precarious position on the boat and at times subject to burns by being too close to the engine NGO 1.
The boat trip to Malta is invariably overcrowded, offering limited access to safety supports and exposing illegalized travellers to gendered harms.
Structurally, bilateral agreements struck between Member States and North African countries have been implemented to avoid obligations owed to illegalized travellers at sea. This has had the greatest impact through practices of interdiction, involving the return of boats containing asylum seekers to Libya, after they have reached international and sometimes Italian or Maltese waters Betts As of November , 1, people had been forcibly returned to Libya and detained, without having their asylum applications adjudicated JRS This bilateral arrangement proved vastly more effective in stopping irregular migration than the Frontex patrols that had taken place each year between — Frontex patrols in this region stopped in as Malta declined to participate, citing concerns over a condition that mandated Member States to receive intercepted boats Camilleri This condition was later annulled Camilleri It should be a source of concern to human rights activists that the court took from mid to early to decide the case, during which time uncertainty about the legitimacy of the practice prevailed.
While the women interviewed in this research did not talk about any direct experiences of interdiction, they did discuss interacting with other vessels at sea. One participant described interacting with people on another boat, receiving minimal assistance: We set off at 4 am and it took two days. On the second day the sea was very rough. We were sitting with our knees up to our heads and the water was directly behind me.
We were so scared. A big boat came past on the second day and we asked them for petrol. The boat said no. They said we are only three hours from Malta.
At night you can see for the lights. Then we arrived in Malta. The Council of Europe has recently called NATO countries to account for failing to come to the aid of a boat carrying 72 illegalized travellers during the recent Libyan conflict Davis After 15 days at sea, their boat eventually drifted back to Libya with only 11 people alive.
Two others later died ashore. These incidents demonstrate the reluctance of key players to save the lives of illegalized travellers at risk at sea. Transit is a period of significant environmental, social, sexual and legal risk for women who participated in this study, where there are not clear demarcations for state and non state actors to be considered accountable or engaged for either the direct or structural violence Galtung explained. The experience of transit is a period of direct and structural violence for refugee women journeying from Malta to Somalia.
The violence occurs in a range of sites. Considering transit as a period of direct and structural violence seeks to make often hidden or unspoken violence more visible to EU policy makers. Despite evidence of agency in some contexts, structural violence is clearly relatable to the broader conditions in which individual and collective violence is experienced. The failure to protect produces conditions that generate and sustain violence throughout the transit period.
Moreover, border securitization that is based on the broad exclusion of undesirable migrants compounds and extends the direct violence. That racialized and gendered groups of illegalized travellers are drawn into making long, dangerous and expensive journeys to the EU is illustrative of the structural violence of blanket border securitization, especially for those from North Africa.
The securitization of migration contributes to the conditions in which mobility comes at a higher price, literally and metaphorically. Whilst much has changed in North Africa and particularly Libya since this research was conducted, this transit region remains strategically important to both the EU and those in need of refugee protection. Recent statistics reveal that irregular migration to the EU via the Central Mediterranean has not returned to its peak, although more were using this route in than in and Frontex The number of Tunisian nationals arriving in the EU fell in the aftermath of an agreement negotiated between Italy and Tunisia on return Frontex An increasing number of Sub-Saharan African nationals are travelling through the Central Mediterranean, with Eritreans comprising the largest nationality and overtaking Somalis Frontex Many have their asylum claims accepted; 90 per cent of those that applied for asylum in Malta in successfully gained some form of humanitarian protection NSO Libya is again the subject of intense EU securitization efforts.
Frontex reports that a lack of professional and technical expertise amongst law enforcement agencies within Libya make migration management cooperation with the country an urgent and core priority for the EU.