True Survivors: East African Refugee Women


Schafer, Loveness H. 2002. “True Survivors: East African Refugee Women.” Africa Today 49 (2): 29-48.

Author: Loveness H. Schafer


In this paper, I explain the process asylum seekers from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Somalia went through when they applied for asylum in Malawi between 1997 and 1999. I describe how international conventions concerning refugees were carried out in practice, paying particular attention to places in the process where women refugees confronted certain hardships. More specifically, I explore the ways in which gender-based violence, rape, and other harms particularly committed against women were dealt with in the processing of asylum applications in Malawi. I argue that both international conventions and individual host countries should revamp laws and mechanisms for admitting refugees to more adequately address the problem of gender-based violence. Despite the hardships they faced, women refugees were the real survivors, because they used all their skills and wits to survive their ordeals and save themselves and their children from abuse, torture, and death.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women, Torture Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Rwanda, Somalia

Year: 2002

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at