Patriarchal family relationship under threat during forced migration. The case of Burundians in Mahama refugee camp, Rwanda
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University of Rwanda, Kigali, Rwanda
IntraHealth, Kigali, Rwanda
Submission date: 2019-03-01
Final revision date: 2019-09-08
Acceptance date: 2019-09-08
Online publication date: 2019-09-23
Publication date: 2019-09-23
Health Psychology Report 2019;7(3):229–241
Patriarchal structure puts men in a position to rule, control, decide, and provide for the family and the house-hold. However, during forced migration, men’s resources and survival capacity are reduced and are dependent on humanitarian donors’ decisions. While the literature focuses on migrant men’s struggle to cope with life, little is known about how forced migration affects the existing relationships of couples from a patriarchal back-ground. This paper sheds light on this matter using the case of Burundian refugees received in Mahama Camp, Rwanda, since April 2015.

Participants and procedure:
Twenty-one men chosen through systematic and purposive sampling techniques were included in the study, of whom 10 were interviewed individually and 11 were approached in a focus group discussion (FGD). Five key informants also contributed to this study. This is a qualitative study during which data were collected using semi structured interview and FGD guides.

The results showed that forced migration brought changes in patriarchal family relationships as well as in tradi-tional gendered roles. Almost all the participants confirmed that in Mahama refugee camp, men were no longer providers for their families and one third specified that men were no longer heads of families. Rather, women found an opportunity to be breadwinners, providers, decision makers, and dominant. This new structure nega-tively affected the relationships of couples and family security.

The study suggested the creation of a special family promotion service within the camp, organisation of cam-paigns on gender equality and positive masculinity, and the establishment of spaces for men and women to work and produce rather than totally depending on the international community.

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