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Menabe small-scale fishermen protest against the use of non-regulatory equipment

Reconstruction of the Rovan'Antananarivo (Antananarivo Palace) : opacity and suspicion of favoritism

Abuse of power and violence : omerta, sustaining sexual corruption

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Small fishermen, at the mercy of the big operators

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Covid-19 in DIANA Region : a battle with no means !

Human procuring and trade : a network of corrupt people between Mauritius and Madagascar

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News

Salt producers are destroying mangroves and human rights

Victims of illegal adoptions claim the truth about their plight

Menabe small-scale fishermen protest against the use of non-regulatory equipment

Reconstruction of the Rovan'Antananarivo (Antananarivo Palace) : opacity and suspicion of favoritism

Abuse of power and violence : omerta, sustaining sexual corruption

Andavakimenarana, sacrified by illicit occupation and illegal appropriation

Small fishermen, at the mercy of the big operators

Boeny : a disrupted distribution of Tosika Fameno aid

Covid-19 in DIANA Region : a battle with no means !

Human procuring and trade : a network of corrupt people between Mauritius and Madagascar

Salt producers are destroying mangroves and human rights

Victims of illegal adoptions claim the truth about their plight

Menabe small-scale fishermen protest against the use of non-regulatory equipment

Reconstruction of the Rovan'Antananarivo (Antananarivo Palace) : opacity and suspicion of favoritism

Abuse of power and violence : omerta, sustaining sexual corruption

Andavakimenarana, sacrified by illicit occupation and illegal appropriation

Small fishermen, at the mercy of the big operators

Boeny : a disrupted distribution of Tosika Fameno aid

Covid-19 in DIANA Region : a battle with no means !

Human procuring and trade : a network of corrupt people between Mauritius and Madagascar

View more news.

Abuse of power and violence : omerta, sustaining sexual corruption

The victims are students, future doctors, young employees, trainees. The victimizers are employers, professors, renowned doctors, high ranking personalities, hierarchical superiors. In exchange for sexual favours, those with authority can change the course of a life. Refusing to do so exposes the victim to a daily nightmare: harassment, violence, humiliation, and exam failures. Submitting to it plunges her into a world of compromise, psychological and physical violence and, above all, sexual corruption. While investigating the facts of sexual corruption in the university and professional environment, we came up against an almost generalized omerta. A state of silence maintained by both the fear of reprisals and the shame felt by the victims in general, as well as the taboo associated with sexual violence in particular.

This investigation was awarded first prize in the Grand Prix MALINA competition (2021), which rewards the best investigations on corruption. This investigation was conducted as part of The 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women, November 25 – December 10.This investigation was awarded first prize in the Grand Prix MALINA competition (2021), which rewards the best investigations on corruption. This investigation was conducted as part of The 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women, November 25 – December 10.

“For as long as I can remember, I had been wanting to work in this field more than anything else in the world. Aside from the potential of this huge career and the financial potential, I was so obsessed with this field that I would dream about it at night. I gave myself the means to realize my dream. I thought that finishing among the very first in a national contest with more than 800 medical students competing for only 150 places would be the hardest part. But I was quickly disheartened. Finally, my efforts, my dream and my hopes will be destroyed by a pervert to whom I had the misfortune to refuse a fellatio “. Through these words, this student in Medicine related the facts of sexual corruption that the university students in Madagascar are facing. An almost generalized phenomenon, according to the collected testimonies.

What is sexual corruption ?

Gender-based corruption (Corruption Basée Sur le Genre – CBSG) or sexual corruption is manifested by the deformation of a power exercise (withholding of a due service, violation of procedures, illicit provision of services against a payment…) motivated by the obtaining of an advantage with sexual connotations, according to the Independent Anti-Corruption Office (Bureau Indépendant Anti-Corruption – Bianco) Report in August 2018. In other words, it is the behaviour of any person who takes advantage of his or her authority over another subordinate person in order to require a sexual act in exchange for advancement, hiring, promotion, etc. Still little known to the public in these terms (Sexual Corruption or Gender-Based Corruption), “sofa promotions”, or whatever name one gives to this practice, are condemned by the law under Article 333 bis of the Malagasy Penal Code.

Art. 333 bis of the Malagasy Penal CodeAnyone who subordinates the accomplishment of a service or an act pertaining to his or her function to obtaining favours of a sexual nature, or who demands favours of the same nature from a person before obtaining, either for himself or herself or for another person, a job, a promotion, a reward, a decoration, any advantage or a favourable decision, will be punished by a prison term of between one and three years and a fine of between MGA 1,000,000 and MGA 4,000,000. Anyone who has used threats of sanctions, effective sanctions or serious pressure to induce a person under his or her authority to grant him or her favours of a sexual nature or to take revenge on the person who has refused such favours will be punished by two to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of MGA 2,000,000 to MGA 10,000,000.

Not only is it about corruption in the workplace (…), but it also affects a very personal aspect of these individuals’ lives: their family, their career and their reputation are at stake.

Olivia Rajerison, lawyer at the Madagascar Bar

The topic of sexual corruption is difficult to address. Almost all of the people approached requested strict anonymity, whether they were victims or witnesses of CBSG. Olivia Rajerison, a lawyer at the Madagascar Bar, explains : “The subject you are raising (sexual corruption) is a very delicate one. Not only is it about corruption in the workplace, a subject which is already difficult to open up to, but it also affects a very personal aspect of these individuals’ lives: their family, their career and their reputation are at stake. Generally, the corrupters have very strong hold on their victims, so it is normal and understandable that the victims are afraid of retaliation and therefore would not dare to testify.”

The « Patrons »’ holy will

Two young medical students, a 19 year old girl and a 21 year old boy, both qualified interns but in different specializations, were brave enough to talk to us about what they were going through. These students came to meet us, accompanied by an association that advocates for human rights. They say they are outraged by the sexual corruption practices in their own faculty. After much reflection, the two students decided to break the silence, a little strained, but determined to speak out.

According to the young girl student, sexual corruption has become a common practice in some medical curricula in Madagascar. This is especially true in one popular medical specialty, where sexual corruption has become almost the norm. According to her, sexual corruption becomes more prevalent after the first seven years of medical studies, when the young graduate decides to specialize in what is considered a very prestigious course of study. Regretfully, this student, although very motivated to join this course, decides to abstain: “The professors, to whom we owe respect and obedience, abuse their position and power to force female students they like to date and have sex with them. I thought about enrolling in it, but hearing all kinds of stories around this curriculum, I finally decided against it.”

I thought about enrolling in it, but hearing all kinds of stories around this curriculum, I finally decided against it.

A young girl student in medicine

This reputation is such that currently, there are definitely more male than female students in this specialization. It is largely due to the fact that the students who commit to it are subjected, according to this young doctor, to very strong pressure from their hierarchical superiors, the “bosses” as they call them. “The girls are very often sexually harassed while the boys are verbally abused… Apart from that, we are asked for other services: to buy them a T-shirt, to wash cars, to replace the tires of their cars with our own money… The expression “Boss” refers to a very obvious dynamic: from the very start of internship, our course will be conditioned by these people alone and will depend on them. Basically, we are at their complete disposal,” the two students add. The victims choose another specialization or remain silent for fear of reprisals from their “bosses”.

A nurtured omerta

In the case of medical studies in particular, we were told, retaliation is likely to affect victims’ careers if they decide to rebel. The two witnesses told us that due to their authority, the “bosses” have the power to end these students’ careers before their thesis. If this is the case, the seven or eight years of medical school have been for nothing: if before their thesis, the “bosses” decide to put an end to the careers of these young doctors. Then, they will find themselves at the same level as the new baccalauréat graduates…

Report published in 2018 by the Independent Anti-Corruption Bureau on a sample of 434 people across ten sectors:

  • 44.01% admitted to having heard about sexual corruption elsewhere than in their workplace.
  • 71.20% admitted to having heard of sexual corruption outside of their own institution. This first trend shows that sexual corruption is widespread in Madagascar.

High ranking personalities at the helm

Our witnesses are unanimous: all have heard about sexual corruption or know of victims in this branch of the Medicine Faculty of Antananarivo University. After a long discussion and trust building, our sources finally named the perpetrators of sexual corruption: they mention two names of high ranking personalities, occupying very high positions within the Administration.

Testimonies of several witnesses and victims

“I was a qualifying intern in Professor X’s department. I was not yet aware of his sad reputation and I was not suspicious of him. He often called me into his office to give me advice, to ask me how he could help me. I thought he was really nice, taking care of his students. But I soon realized his real intentions. Fortunately, I was able to escape him, but one of my classmates had no choice but to give in.”

“Professor Y is known to be a real womanizer. When one of his victims rejects his advances, he manages to put her under pressure, to the point of pushing her into error in her duties, and blames her in public.”

Another victim of Professor Y rejected his advances and in revenge, he refused to do his job as a professional mentor properly. He made her life a living hell, insulted and belittled her, and finally she had to stop her specialty course and go back to studying general medicine. She was, however, according to her classmates, a brilliant young doctor with a promising future. Contacted by phone, Professor Y denied these accusations.

A battle to win

What could be the possible solutions to be explored in order to put an end to sexual corruption ? Our interlocutors answer : “I don’t see any. Here in Medicine, we have already tried a lot. One student already complained to the administration but the reprisals were ruthless. An exemplary punishment should be given to one of these perverts. So others can see that there will be no more impunity. And especially in order that the other students still here can testify and protect themselves. But this still seems unfeasible: no one ever won a case against a state representative.” – Member of the nursing staff of a hospital in Antananarivo.

“To make known the law, the one that protects people from sexual corruption, and the one that punishes the corruptors. And eventually, the penalties to motivate other people to testify. You also need to be part of a group that could stand together in the event of such abuses, hence the interest in being part of a strong union.” – Jerisoa Ralibera, Paramedic Union President.

Until a few years ago, paramedic trainees and midwives were also among the victims of sexual corruption in the hospital environment. But it was by organizing and standing together that paramedics, through their union, were able to break this stranglehold.

Sexual corruption is a permanent threat. We are reporting these testimonies as our contribution to initiate debates and actions against sexual corruption which prevails in indifference or ignorance in our society. Transparency International – Initiative Madagascar will make an official report of these cases of sexual corruption and will transmit the complete testimonies and the names of the alleged perpetrators to the Bianco.

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