Murderous People-Smugglers Led Up to 1 in 10 Women to Their Deaths on Spanish Migrant Route

Vessels accumulate at a 'boat cemetery' in Arinaga on the Spanish Canary island
LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

As many as ten per cent of the women who attempted to reach Spain illegally by boat in 2021 were killed, double the death rate of male migrants, according to statistics compiled by a Spanish NGO.

The Association for Human Rights of Andalusia claims that for every hundred men who board boats to head to Spanish territory from Africa, five end up dying, while the statistics for women is double, with ten in a hundred dying during the journey.

The NGO notes that the high number of deaths among women is “due to the fact that women, often pregnant or accompanied by minors, are placed on long journeys in the centre of the boats, which in the event of a shipwreck limits their chances of survival, which are further reduced by the responsibility of saving their son or daughter.”

The association claims that of the over 2,000 people who died trying to reach Spain last year, 81 per cent were men and 19 per cent were women. The number of deaths in 2021 was 24 per cent higher than the previous year, largely due to the increased popularity of the dangerous route from the African coast to Spain’s Canary Islands.

Of the 2,126 deaths along the various route to Spain last year, 1,332 of them took place along the Canary Islands route, and of the total just 1,457 bodies have been found while 669 people remain missing, El Mundo reports.

Women have also been found dead along other sea-based migrant routes to Europe over the last year, including the central Mediterranean route to Italy and the eastern route to Greece.

In July, a pregnant woman was among the seven people found dead off the coast of the island of Lampedusa in what was just a fraction of the total number of migrants who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to Italy.

In February of last year, reports noted the increasing presence of pregnant women on migrant boats arriving in Italy, leading to speculation that people-traffickers were purposely putting pregnant women on the dangerous boats as a means to increase their business by encouraging authorities to perform quicker rescues.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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