Abuse of Power: Sexual Exploitation of Refugee Women and Girls


Ferris, Elizabeth. 2007. “Abuse of Power: Sexual Exploitation of Refugee Women and Girls.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 32 (3): 584–91.

Author: Elizabeth Ferris


The fact that refugee and displaced women and children are particularly vulnerable to violence has been widely acknowledged by the international community over the past twenty years. Sexual violence is frequently used as a tool of war; thus, women flee their communities because of sexual and gender-based violence. Too often, they encounter violence and exploitation in their flight to safety—at the hands of warlords, soldiers, armed gangs, and border guards. In refugee and displaced persons camps, they are vulnerable to violence when they search for firewood and food. With the breakdown in social norms, they are at increased risk of domestic and community violence. When humanitarian relief in the form of food and other necessities is insufficient for their families, they sometimes turn to prostitution. But in the past few years, there has been growing awareness of sexual exploitation by a different group of perpetrators: humanitarian workers who are charged with protecting and assisting refugees and the displaced.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Refugee/IDP Camps, Domestic Violence, Gender, Women, Girls, Humanitarian Assistance, Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Violence

Year: 2007

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