Tackling Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Africa
Posted by HIAS – NY on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 14:57 pm
Photo: Glenna Gordon for HIAS
After decades of advocacy efforts by refugee protection agencies to bring the issue of sexual and gender-based violence among refugees to the fore, prevention and response programs are finally becoming widely accessible to refugee women and girls who are vulnerable to or have survived gender-based violence.
Yet, the needs of certain populations—including men and boys, sexual minorities, disabled individuals, and older refugees—still remain largely unaddressed. As a result, thousands of refugees fall through the cracks of sexual and gender-based violence prevention and treatment efforts, leaving them vulnerable and alone.
Take Jean-Marie, a young gay man who experienced repeated sexual assault in Congo before fleeing for his life to Nairobi. Though he carries great trauma from his experiences, fear of humiliation and stigma keep him from turning for help. Left unprotected as a refugee, he is vulnerable to more sexual violence in his new home. Harassment, rape, torture, and exploitation haunt him every day, but when he encounters such treatment, shame and fear keep him, like many others, from reporting it to refugee aid workers.
To meet the needs of thousands of people like Jean-Marie, HIAS has launched a new project, with support from the U.S. State Department and in partnership with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), to increase access to services for all refugees who have experienced or are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence.
By reaching out to a wide range of refugees and service providers, HIAS will identify protection gaps in Chad, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda and determine the most effective ways to help protect and treat some of the world’s most vulnerable and underserved refugees.
Far too many people continue to face ongoing threats of sexual violence. HIAS can lead the way to ensure refugees like Jean-Marie can access the services they need and that are specifically tailored to their needs, as well.