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Gender Relations in Confined Spaces. Conditions, Scope and Forms of Violence against Women in Conflict-related Refugee Camps

(funded by the German Foundation for Peace Research DSF, 2013-2016)






Gender Foto 2For many women, the end of conflicts does not represent the end of conflict-related sexual violence. Current studies argue that escaping from war and repression to refugee and IDP camps only offers a certain degree of protection against violent assaults since women are not safe from (sexual) abuse there. Several refugee and aid agencies recognise the vulnerability of women and girls as targets of sexual violence and implement measures to protect and empower them. In spite of that there is an increase in the recording of crimes which indicates that sexual and gender-based violence constitutes a particular challenge. Against this backdrop, the research project investigates conditions, forms and scopes of sexual violence against women in conflict-related refugee camps. How does the confined space of refugee camps influence gender relations among the refugees? How does the experience of wartime violence affect actions and behaviour? Does the confinement of the space lead to an increase of sexual violence against women and, if so, how? These questions form the centre of the research project and shall be analysed by means of a case study in Uganda.

The research project enters new territory: conflict-related refugee camps. It focuses on the nexus between displacement, gender relations and sexual violence in order to analyse the continuum of violence in post-conflict contexts or beyond the remits of war zones. This is based on the argument that many women experience violence in the context of armed conflicts differently since it often occurs outside of the temporal and spatial scopes of violent conflicts. Dichotomies such as before vs. after a cease-fire, public war zones vs. private homes, and enemy combatants vs. trustworthy family members are difficult to maintain. If and how this is manifested in Gender Foto 1conflict-related refugee camps is therefore an important contribution to gender perspectives in peace and conflict studies.

Our point of departure is the assumption that refugee camps are confined spaces in which gender relations are (re-)negotiated and (re-)defined. This happens within the categories men or women (homosocially) as well as between the categories men and women (heterosocially). Based on Raewyn Connell’s concept of hegemonic masculinity, we assume that life in refugee camps is accompanied by a subjectively perceived degradation of masculinity, which is compensated by using violence against women in the private sphere. The research project seeks to empirically analyse if this is the case. In order to collect empirical data, the project employs a mix of methods from different social science perspectives that promises the best insights into micro- and meso-levels. The field research is based on a composition of participatory observation, problem-oriented and ethnographic interviews, ero-epic dialogues, and group discussions. The triangulation of different methods is to serve the validation of results and to obtain additional insights.



Overview of Research Literature and Reports about Violence against and amongst Refugees with a Focus on Sexual and Gender-based Violence


Further information is available here.


Call for Papers "Conditions, Scope and Forms of Violence Amongst Conflict-Related Refugee Communities"


The objective of our volume is to explore conditions, scope and forms of violence against and amongst refugees and IDPs in countries of the global south with a focus on (but no strict limitation to) sexual and gender-based violence. By bringing together researchers and policymakers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds, the volume aims to include theoretical approaches, regional case studies and policy analyses.


We welcome proposals dealing with the following broad themes, inter alia:

1. Victims, perpetrators and gender relations in the refugee and IDP contexts

2. Violence and specific instruments of refugee and IDP protection and assistance

3. Violence in refugee camps, urban settings and self-settled communities

Further information is available here.

Submission of abstracts

Please send your abstract of 500 words to Ulrike Krause (

Deadline: 31/11/2013.


bild2016 Prof. Dr. Susanne Buckley-Zistel

Phone number: 06421/ 28 24 507




Foto Ulrike Krause Dr. Ulrike Krause

Phone Number: 06421/ 28 24 411



Last modified: 29.11.2016 · Harrispo

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