Gender and Migration: The Sexual Debut of Sub-Saharan African Migrants in France

By Élise Marsicano, Nathalie Lydié, Nathalie Bajos, le groupe CSF


This article analyses the recomposition of gender relations in a migratory context from a specific viewpoint: the sexual debut of individuals who migrated from sub-Saharan Africa to France. It is based on a 2005 survey of 1,874 sub-Saharan African migrants in the Île-de-France region. The aim is to determine the impact of men’s and women’s migratory trajectories on their first sexual experiences, as well as any possible changes in sexual power relations after migration. The construction of migratory profiles enabled us to distinguish between the context of socialization during childhood and adolescence, and the context in which the first sexual intercourse occurred. While social-cultural capital is still a determining factor in the timing of the sexual debut, the influence of educational and religious socialization varies according to the context of sexual debut, and acts differently for women and for men. Furthermore, in the case of individuals who became sexually active before migrating, the age gap between partners and the frequency of forced first sexual intercourse (notably for women), reflect very inegalitarian relational contexts. Conversely, the fact of having migrated during childhood provides more egalitarian conditions for sexual debut, similar to those of persons born in France.


  • Sexual debut
  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • migrant
  • France
  • gender
  • socialization.
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