Kimberly Monica Veller


Organization: Refugee Law Project (RLP)
Location: Kampala, Uganda
Year: 2012

MRP/Thesis abstract:

Investigating Conceptual Approaches to Sexual Violence in Refugee Contexts: Case Illustrations from Kampala, Uganda.

Organizational responses and media representations of sexual violence in conflict tend to reinforce a damaging dichotomy of woman/victim and man/perpetrator. Women and girls face disproportionately higher levels of sexual violence in times of war as well as peace, but men and boys can also be victims. In a refugee context, where traditional gender roles are challenged and sometimes overturned, issues of gender-based violence must be carefully addressed. Given that it is the unequally powered gender relations that facilitate and even encourage sexual violence; this paper begins with the understanding that those gender relations and the harmful stereotypes therein must be prioritized in responses as well as efforts towards prevention. Based on 23 interviews conducted with NGO staff and duty-bearers in Kampala, Uganda, it was found that unique approaches to incorporating male victims may prove beneficial for men and boys, but also, for women and girls. The results are used to argue that dominant discourses around sexual violence, conflict and refugees fail men and boys by excluding them, but also, fail women and girls by missing opportunities to interrogate the very gender relations that support violence in war.