P199 – Gender, Violence and Refugee Communities
9 July, 14:00-15:30

Buckley-Zistel Susanne / Center for Conflict Studies/University of Marburg
Krause Ulrike / Center for Conflict Studies/University of Marburg


For many refugees, the end of conflicts does not coincide with the end of violent assaults, as escaping war and repression only offers a certain degree of shelter from physical and structural violence. Women and girls, yet also men and boys, may become victims of sexual and gender-based violence as has been increasingly reported by aid and human rights agencies in the past years. Moreover, the forceful recruitment of individuals in refugee camps into armed groups, gang violence erupting amongst young refugees and violent disputes upon return to the place of origin suggest that there is a continuation of violence that penetrates into these supposedly safe havens. The experiences of displacement have an impact on social relations, in particular gender relations. While many humanitarian agencies and refugee-supporting organisations recognise this continuum of violence in general and sexual and gender-based violence in particular, they themselves become entangled in the re-negotiation of relations and the forging of new identities. The panel explores origins, scope and forms of violence against and amongst refugees from a gender perspective. It assesses how masculinities and femininities – as well as the way they relate to each other – change in the context of displacement and encampment. Case studies reach from the analysis of gendered violence in refugee camps, via the impact of the host community on gender relations, to the role of humanitarian agencies and their gender programmes.

Genre, violence et les communautés des réfugiés
Pour de nombreux réfugiés, la fin des conflits ne coïncide pas avec la fin des agressions violentes, fuir la guerre et la répression ne permet pas forcément d’échapper à la violence physique et structurelle. Femmes et filles, et même aussi hommes et garçons, peuvent être victimes de violence sexuelle et de violence basée sur le genre comme il a été rapporté par de nombreuses organisations de défense des droits humains ces dernières années. De plus, on constate que les camps de réfugiés censés être des refuges sécurisés sont le théâtre de pratiques de recrutement forcé, de violence de gangs entre jeunes réfugiés ou de violentes disputes concernant le retour dans les régions d’origine. L’expérience du déplacement a des conséquences sur les relations sociales, particulièrement sur les relations entre les sexes. Alors que de nombreuses organisations humanitaires de protection des réfugiés constatent ce continuum de la violence en général, et notamment de la violence sexuelle, elles se retrouvent mêlées à la renégociation des relations et à l’établissement de nouvelles identités. Ce panel analysera, l’origine, la dimension et les formes de la violence contre et entre les réfugiés dans une perspective de genre. Il évaluera la façon dont les masculinités et les féminités – ainsi que la façon dont ils se rapportent les uns aux autres – changent dans le contexte de la migration et des camps. Des études de cas s’intéresseront à l’analyse de la violence sexuelle dans les camps de réfugiés, par l’intermédiaire de l’impact de la communauté d’accueil sur les relations entre les sexes, le rôle des ONG humanitaires et de leurs programmes de genre.

Paper 1

Betts Alexander / Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford

Violence, Gender, and Deportation: Angola’s Treatment of Congolese Survival Migrants

There has historically been significant circular migration between the Bandundu and Western Kasai provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul regions of Angola. During the Angolan civil war, the presence of Congolese as a source of migrant labour was welcomed. However, after the war ended in 2002 and with the advent of MPLA as the government, the presence of Congolese in and around the diamond mining areas of the Lundas has been less tolerated. The response of the Angolan government has been brutal and repressive. Coinciding with regional and national elections as well as the negotiation of diamond extraction concessions, Angola has engaged in the systematic deportation of over 500,000 Congolese migrants since 2003 which initially took places in “waves”. The conditions of deportation include serious levels of sex and gender-based violence. Yet there has been a lack of international response and publicising, with international organisations arguing that the context falls outside their mandate or is simply not a priority.
This paper describes the waves of deportations and the response of the Angolan government, and examines the response of the international community. It adopts a gendered perspective to critically explore the nature and consequences of the sexual violence used within deportation, and the inherently gendered language used to legitimate the Angolan government’s action and the international community’s inaction.

Paper 2

Krause Ulrike / Center for Conflict Studies, Philipps-University Marburg

Escaping Conflicts and Being Safe? Post-Conflict Refugee Camps and the Continuum of Violence

The majority of refugees worldwide flees from conflicts in which especially women are targets of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Escaping conflict zones and reaching an asylum country means for them to seek safety and security which is mostly offered in refugee camps and settlements. However, studies and reports stress a prevalence of violence against women in camps despite the protection standards of the international refugee regime. Against this backdrop, this paper argues that this prevalence suggest a continuum of sexual and gender-based violence encompassing conflict, flight and encampment. As a first step, the paper analyses the scope and forms, perpetrator and victim structures as well as conditions of SGBV during each phase of conflict, flight and encampment. As a second step, the results of the analysis are summarized to elicit the continuum of violence. The paper closes by stating a conclusion and stressing specific needs for further research endeavours.
The paper is draws upon original, empirical research of a case study of Kyaka II Refugee Settlement in Uganda where mainly Congolese refugees are settled. The research was conducted through a mixed-method approach. It is part of research project “Gender in Confined Spaces” at the Center of Conflict Studies of Marburg University which is funded by the German Foundation for Peace Research (DSF).

Paper 3

Paszkiewicz Natalia / Independent Academic Research Studies (IARS)

Abused No More?: The Voices of Refugee and Asylum-seeking Women in the UK.

Refugee women are a particularly vulnerable group as a result of race and gender inequalities which continue to persist in the UK. The Commission for Race Equality’s ‘legacy’ document (2007) states that Britain is ‘still a place of inequality, exclusion and isolation’ and in a report, the Equal Opportunities Commission (2007) stresses the extent of gender inequality in the UK. The intersection of race and gender inequalities combined with experiences of gender-based violence and difficulties of asylum seeking process all contribute to the marginalisation of refugee women in British society.
The mental and physical health problems often associated with gender-related persecution mean that the needs of refugee women are complex. Many refugee women in the UK have experienced a form of sexual and gender-based violence in their country of origin and are vulnerable to such acts in the UK. Most women who participated in our research said that they suffered with mental health problems, with 75% reporting depression, 83% anxiety and 40% Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A gender-sensitive approach to working with refugee women is thus of paramount importance to identify gender-specific support needs as early as possible. In order for refugee and asylum seeking women to receive services that are sensitive to their personal needs, service providers need to adopt a positive approach to ensuring equality outcome for this group rather than simply equality of opportunity to access service.

Paper 4

Lewis Chloé / University of Oxford

“We Will Speak Out”: Engendering understandings of faith-based responses to SGBV in displacement contexts

The nexus between displacement and sexual and gender-based violence is now recognised at the highest levels of the international community and “SGBV” is considered a priority focus in responses to displacement settings. Concomitantly, there is growing interest in the role played by faith-based actors in such settings, as demonstrated by UNHCR’s Dialogue on Faith and Protection in 2012, in addition to increased resource-allocation to faith-based organisations (FBOs). The perceived advantages of working with/through FBOs centre on access to and legitimacy with beneficiaries, particularly regarding sensitive issues, such as SGBV. Nonetheless, assumptions regarding the gendered nature and impact of FBOs’ in displacement contexts remain distinctly “negative”. While some of these concerns may be valid, empirically-grounded evidence is needed to assess whether such assumptions can, or cannot, be maintained, and to what extent. These include beliefs that FBOs are automatically more “conservative” and “patriarchal” than their secular counterparts; that FBOs will necessarily hinder the participation of women and girls; and that FBOs will undoubtedly refuse to engage with those who do not comply with norms regarding gender and sexuality. Grounded in qualitative interviews with faith-based and non-faith-based practitioners in the Great Lakes Region, this paper seeks to complicate the taken-for-granted binaries equating “secular” with “progressive” and “faith” with “regressive”.

Paper 5

Kivilcim Zeynep / Istanbul University

Özgür Nurcan / Istanbul University

Out-of-camp Syrian Women and LGBTI refugees in Turkey: amid legal blindness and structural violence

According to official statistics women and children constitute 77 % of the Syrian refugees in Turkey. There is no available data about Syrian LGBTI refugees in Turkey. The overwhelming majority of women and LGBTI refugees are not registered and, thus have poor access to basic human rights and undergone social and gender-based discrimination and exploitation in Turkey.
The proposed paper is based on a six months long fieldwork study on the problems of legal protection and access to basic human rights among Syrian women and LGBTI refugees in Istanbul, the city holding highest number of Syrian refugees in Turkey. Supported by the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, the field study included more than 30 semi-structured and/or indepth interviews with women, LGBTI refugees as well as concerned NGO’s and state institutions.
The paper stresses a gender-based critique of the Turkey’s legal framework regulating the rights and freedoms of Syrians refugees, i.e. women and LGBTI refugees, and explores if this legislation prepared and enacted during the three years-long Syrian refugee influx to Turkey provide rights-based protection to Syrian women and LGBTI urban refugees. Based on the fieldwork findings, the paper aims to bring to the light the deep structural and legal sources of social and gender-based violence and exploitation against Syrian women and LGBTI refugees in Istanbul.

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