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Lived experiences of street girls in Côte d’Ivoire

Tamarah Moss (School of Social Work, Howard University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Andrew M. Muriuki (Save the Children USA, Fairfield, Connecticut, USA)
Sithokozile Maposa (Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada)
Denise Kpebo (Save the Children Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan, Côte d’ivoire)

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1747-9894

Article publication date: 26 June 2019

Issue publication date: 15 July 2019




The United Nations continues to identify street children as one of the most vulnerable sub-populations of children and youth globally. The purpose of this paper is to present social and contextual perspectives of 11 girls living on the streets of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Implications with respect to the development and delivery of effective sexual/reproductive and mental health interventions and services are discussed.


Through semi-structured interviews and applied qualitative thematic analysis, this paper aims to achieve in-depth understanding about the lives of 11 girls living on the street. A socio-ecological framework is utilized to interpret the experiences of the girls at the individual (micro), community (mezzo) and structural (macro) levels.


Six main themes evolved from the thematic analysis of interview transcripts: exposure to violence and abuse before and on the street, exposure to violence and sex work, risk and vulnerability to HIV, substance use and sex work, substance use and physical and reproductive health and ways of coping and future planning.


The interplay of experiences illustrates how girls navigate their lives, and along with an appreciation of intersectionality validates the need for an integrated approach to health and social care related to health and mental health services. Integrated interventions should focus on common issues such as improving access to HIV testing and contraceptives for young girls living on the street.



The authors would like to thank the street girl participants of the study for sharing their stories, the survey team for their patience and sensitivity and Save the Children-Cote D’Ivoire staff, Save the Children-USA, USAID and an NGO key implementing agency of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) for their support. Thanks also to Howard University Research Centers for Minority Institutions (RCMI) Program.


Moss, T., Muriuki, A.M., Maposa, S. and Kpebo, D. (2019), "Lived experiences of street girls in Côte d’Ivoire", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 150-162.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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