Female refugees are more likely to be victims of gender-based violence (GBV) in refugee camps than in urban settings, according to researchers.
The researchers published their findings from different camps, which revealed that female migrants reported experiencing GBV on their way to camps, which is much higher than what they experience in urban environments.
Researchers from the Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA) disclosed at a stakeholders meeting that female refugees are denied a number of rights from their countries of origin all the way to the refugee camps.
According to Adamnesh Atinafu (PhD), a researcher and team leader of the gender and generation thematic area at OSSREA, they have talked to some refugees in the camps about their experience with GBV before ending up in camps and after.
“Even though it isn’t much in number, we don’t want to ignore it because it is something that needs to be dealt with,” the researcher said, alarming about the violence on female refugees.
Adamnesh discussed in the meeting that she has come across women with experiences of GBV as a result of the cultural impact in the areas of the refugees’ origin, and later the culture remain the same in camps. It includes anecdotes about a girl who was raped and had to give birth as a result. As she had a child without marriage, she and her family would be socially outcasted.
The researcher included information about the refugees’ situations in their home countries in her preliminary findings, which she acknowledged would require further investigation into the underlying causes.
“We have seen girls who are deprived of education in their origin places, because parents were in fear of kidnaping incidents to the girls than boys,” she said. “From the very beginning, they were deprived the right to get education.”
The researcher outlined several challenges that women refugees face, such as an absence of job opportunities in the camps, struggles with gender norms and values, caregiving responsibilities, and the common occurrence of women becoming the breadwinners in their families after the loss of husbands or sons to conflict.