Forced migration and sexual abuse: experience of Congolese adolescent girls in Kigeme refugee camp, Rwanda
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University of Rwanda, Rwanda
United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Rwanda
Submission date: 2015-05-19
Final revision date: 2016-04-19
Acceptance date: 2016-04-19
Online publication date: 2016-05-11
Publication date: 2016-05-10
Health Psychology Report 2016;4(3):261–271
This study deals with the link between forced migration and sexual abuse, with a special focus on adolescent girls. Existing literature associates forced migration with sexual abuse and identifies adolescent girls as the most vulnerable. However, little is known about the situation of sexual abuse among Congolese refugees in Rwanda since their arrival in 2012 due to the conflict between Congolese government forces and the M23 rebel group. This study was initiated to explore the situation of sexual abuse of Congolese adolescent girls in Kigeme camp and to suggest remedial strategies.

Participants and procedure
Qualitative data were collected through individual interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) with adolescent girls. Interviews also involved parents, boys, camp authorities, and neighbouring citizens.

The findings show that rape, unwanted physical touching, sexual exploitation, commercial sex, early marriage and girl trafficking are the main forms of sexual abuse. These are facilitated by the miserable life in the camp, shortcomings in the camp layout and security system, and adolescent developmental stage. They negatively impact girls’ reproductive health, social integration and mental health.

Existing strategies to address sexual abuse in the camp have had positive but insufficient results, and thus need to be improved and reinforced. Improvement is suggested in the areas of the abuse reporting system, the camp layout and security system, involvement of men and youth, and the consolidation of anti-GBV (gender-based violence) clubs.
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