Sexual and Gender-based Violence in the Refugee Crisis: vulnerabilities, inequalities and responses

Professor Jenny Phillimore has secured funding from the Europe and Global Challenges Programme to lead a new research project to examine Sexual and Gender-based Violence in the Refugee Crisis: vulnerabilities, inequalities and responses. The project will use a constructionist approach to examine refugees’ experience of SGBV across the refugee journey.  Supported by Dr Lisa Goodson, the project will also include partners in the Universities of Melbourne, Uppsala and Bilkent, as well as close working with NGOs including the Women’s Refugee Commission and Doctors of the World.

Doctors of the World and the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) have highlighted extraordinary levels of sexual and gender-based violence experienced by refugees during recent conflicts, throughout refugees’ flight, in temporary camps and in immigration detention centres. Our aim is to understand the nature and incidence of SGBV experienced by migrants fleeing unrest in order to develop appropriate treatment and service responses. There will be particular focus on understanding how the health consequences of these experiences are diagnosed and treated and shape inequalities in different countries of refuge.

The scale of migration experienced across Europe and the lack of available resources has not allowed for the development of suitable treatment, with facilities and services often lacking. Many women are also reluctant to report such incidents for fear of reprisals or a culture of disbelief amongst the authorities. This compounds their trauma and can lead to further mental health issues as a result. The project aims to identify the points at which refugees are most vulnerable to SGBV and establish methods for the systematic recording of reported incidents of SGBV. The project also aims to identify the most effective treatments and supports in assisting those affected by SGBV as well as highlighting the long term impacts on their wellbeing, ability to settle and equality of outcomes.

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