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Sextortion: Middle East and North Africa

Although women’s rights have advanced unevenly across the Middle East and North Africa, positive momentum has been building in the region over the last decade. Women are speaking out in ever greater numbers in support of increasing representation in government, criminalising domestic violence, promoting equal rights for women and girls, and a host of other issues. Throughout the region, women are fighting to make their voices heard.

New research

Existing research shows some forms of corruption disproportionately affect women, yet historically there has been little data on gendered forms of corruption. For the first time, the release of the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Middle East and North Africa highlights data on sexual extortion, or sextortion, in Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan.

Sextortion is one of the most significant forms of gendered corruption. When coerced sex is the currency of the bribe, evidence points towards a gender bias that particularly affects women; some women are coerced to provide sexual favours in order to receive public services, including health care and education.

One in five experiences sextortion

In the three countries surveyed, the results found that one in five people experiences sexual extortion – or sextortion – when accessing a government service, like health care or education, or knows someone who has.

Data also shows 47 per cent of people think that sextortion happens at least occasionally. Further analysis shows that women are significantly more likely to think sextortion occurs frequently.

The highest sextortion rate is in Lebanon, where 23 per cent of people experience sextortion or know someone who has, followed by Palestine at 21 per cent and Jordan at 13 per cent.

Country in focus: Palestine

Transparency International works with chapters across the Middle East and North Africa to fight against sextortion and tackle issues of gender and corruption.

In Palestine, our chapter, the Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN) receives a number of complaints from women about sextortion in public workplaces and works to provide legal advice and support. The chapter also continues to advocate for sextortion to be criminalised as an illegal form of corruption.

What you can do

  • Report sextortion when it happens. Find an Advocacy & Legal Advice Centre (ALAC) near you to report any cases of sexual extortion.
  • Speak out on social media. Spread the word about how corruption impacts women. #WomenAgainstCorruption
  • Contact your local Transparency International chapter. Get in touch to see how you can help.

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