Dignity and the Right of Internally Displaced Adolescents in Colombia to Sexual and Reproductive Health


Bosmans, Marleen, Fernando Gonzalez, Eva Brems, and Marleen Temmerman. 2012. “Dignity and the Right of Internally Displaced Adolescents in Colombia to Sexual and Reproductive Health.” Disasters 36 (4): 617–34. 

Authors: Marleen Bosmans, Fernando Gonzalez, Eva Brems, Marleen Temmerman


In Colombia, national policies and laws on the protection of vulnerable populations pay specific attention to the sexual and reproductive health needs and rights of internally displaced adolescents. This paper describes how a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-supported programme (September 2000–August 2004) on the sexual and reproductive health of internally displaced adolescents contributed to restoring their dignity as a precursor to promoting their sexual and reproductive health rights. Different forms of the arts were used as basic techniques to discover their body and to provide sexual and reproductive health information and education. The arts were found to play a key role in restoring their dignity. Although dignity appeared to be a determinant of greater awareness of rights, it did not lead to increased empowerment with regard to rights. The availability of and access to sexual and reproductive health services remains a problem and displaced populations continue to have little or no power to hold their authorities accountable.

Keywords: adolescents, Colombia, dignity, internally displaced persons, sexual and reproductive health, sexual and reproductive health rights

Topics: Displacement & Migration, IDPs, Gender, Girls, Boys, Health, Reproductive Health, Humanitarian Assistance Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2012

Empty Words or Real Achievement? The Impact of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women in Armed Conflicts


Binder, Christina, Karin Lukas, and Romana Schweiger. 2008. “Empty Words or Real Achievement? The Impact of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women in Armed Conflicts.” Radical History Review, no. 101, 22–41.

Authors: Christina Binder, Karin Lukas, Roman Schweiger


On October 31, 2000, the Security Council of the United Nations (UN) adopted Resolution 1325 as the first comprehensive document on strengthening the role of women and girls in conflict and postconflict situations. The article reviews the resolution's history and examines its potential for the advancement of women. The characteristic advantage of Resolution 1325 is its central idea of the empowerment of women in conflict and postconflict settings. However, have the objectives of the resolution been adequately endorsed at the international level? Have they been sufficiently implemented at the national level? Or have the commitments of Resolution 1325 remained empty words without further impact?
The article explores the case of Uganda to illustrate the effects of the resolution on women as peace-builders in a national context and discusses the advances in addressing gender issues in postconflict justice processes. It concludes that many of the commitments outlined in Resolution 1325 still remain to be implemented—at the level of the UN as well as in national contexts. (Duke University Press)

Topics: Gender, Women, Girls, Conflict, Peace and Security, International Organizations, Justice, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2008

In the Face of War: Examining Sexual Vulnerabilities of Acholi Adolescent Girls Living in Displacement Camps in Conflict-Affected Northern Uganda


Patel, S. H., H. Muyinda, N. K. Sewankambo, G. Oyat, S. Atim, and P. M. Spittal. 2012. “In the Face of War: Examining Sexual Vulnerabilities of Acholi Adolescent Girls Living in Displacement Camps in Conflict-Affected Northern Uganda.” BMC International Health and Human Rights 12 (38).

Authors: Sheetal H Patel, Herbert Muyinda, Nelson K Sewankambo, Geoffrey Oyat, Stella Atim, Patricia M Spittal


Background: Adolescent girls are an overlooked group within conflict-affected populations and their sexual health needs are often neglected. Girls are disproportionately at risk of HIV and other STIs in times of conflict, however the lack of recognition of their unique sexual health needs has resulted in a dearth of distinctive HIV protection and prevention responses. Departing from the recognition of a paucity of literature on the distinct vulnerabilities of girls in time of conflict, this study sought to deepen the knowledge base on this issue by qualitatively exploring the sexual vulnerabilities of adolescent girls surviving abduction and displacement in Northern Uganda.

Methods: Over a ten-month period between 2004–2005, at the height of the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency in Northern Uganda, 116 in-depth interviews and 16 focus group discussions were held with adolescent girls and adult women living in three displacement camps in Gulu district, Northern Uganda. The data was transcribed and key themes and common issues were identified. Once all data was coded the ethnographic software programme ATLAS was used to compare and contrast themes and categories generated in the in-depth interviews and focus group discussions.

Results: Our results demonstrated the erosion of traditional Acholi mentoring and belief systems that had previously served to protect adolescent girls’ sexuality. This disintegration combined with: the collapse of livelihoods; being left in camps unsupervised and idle during the day; commuting within camp perimeters at night away from the family hut to sleep in more central locations due to privacy and insecurity issues, and; inadequate access to appropriate sexual health information and services, all contribute to adolescent girls’ heightened sexual vulnerability and subsequent enhanced risk for HIV/AIDS in times of conflict.

Conclusions: Conflict prevention planners, resettlement programme developers, and policy-makers need to recognize adolescent girls affected by armed conflict as having distinctive needs, which require distinctive responses. More adaptive and sustainable gender-sensitive reproductive health strategies and HIV prevention initiatives for displaced adolescent girls in conflict settings must be developed.

Keywords: adolescent girls, conflict, Sexual vulnerability, displacement camps, Northern Uganda, Acholi, Qualitative, HIV/AIDS

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Girls, Health, HIV/AIDS Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2012

Outcomes and Moderators of a Preventive School-Based Mental Health Intervention for Children Affected by War in Sri Lanka: A Cluster Randomized Trial


Tol, Wietse A., Ivan H. Komproe, Mark J.d. Jordans, Anavarathan Vallipuram, Heather Sipsma, Sambasivamoorthy Sivayokan, Robert D. Macy, and Joop T. De Jong. 2012. “Outcomes and Moderators of a Preventive School-Based Mental Health Intervention for Children Affected by War in Sri Lanka: A Cluster Randomized Trial.” World Psychiatry 11 (2): 114–22. doi:10.1016/j.wpsyc.2012.05.008.

Authors: Wietse A. Tol, Ivan H. Komproe, Mark J.d. Jordans, Anavarathan Vallipuram, Heather Sipsma, Sambasivamoorthy Sivayokan, Robert D. Macy, Joop T. De Jong


We aimed to examine outcomes, moderators and mediators of a preventive school-based mental health intervention implemented by paraprofessionals in a war-affected setting in northern Sri Lanka. A cluster randomized trial was employed. Subsequent to screening 1,370 children in randomly selected schools, 399 children were assigned to an intervention (n=199) or waitlist control condition (n=200). The intervention consisted of 15 manualized sessions over 5 weeks of cognitive behavioral techniques and creative expressive elements. As- sessments took place before, 1 week after, and 3 months after the intervention. Primary outcomes included post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depressive, and anxiety symptoms. No main effects on primary outcomes were identified. A main effect in favor of intervention for conduct problems was observed. This effect was stronger for younger children. Furthermore, we found intervention benefits for spe- cific subgroups. Stronger effects were found for boys with regard to PTSD and anxiety symptoms, and for younger children on pro-social behavior. Moreover, we found stronger intervention effects on PTSD, anxiety, and function impairment for children experiencing lower levels of current war-related stressors. Girls in the intervention condition showed smaller reductions on PTSD symptoms than waitlisted girls. We conclude that preventive school-based psychosocial interventions in volatile areas characterized by ongoing war-related stress- ors may effectively improve indicators of psychological wellbeing and posttraumatic stress-related symptoms in some children. However, they may undermine natural recovery for others. Further research is necessary to examine how gender, age and current war-related expe- riences contribute to differential intervention effects.

Keywords: armed conflict, political violence, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, school-based intervention, prevention, Sri Lanka

Topics: Age, Youth, Armed Conflict, Gender, Girls, Boys, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Violence Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2012

Impact of Sexual Violence on Children in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo


Nelson, Brett D., Lisa Collins, Michael J. VanRooyen, Nina Joyce, Denis Mukwege, and Susan Bartels. 2011. “Impact of Sexual Violence on Children in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.” Medicine, Conflict and Survival 27 (4): 211–25. doi:10.1080/13623699.2011.645148.

Authors: Brett D. Nelson, Lisa Collins, Michael J. VanRooyen, Nina Joyce, Denis Mukwege, Susan Bartels


The conflict in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been particularly devastating for children and has been typified by high levels of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). In this study, we seek to characterize the patterns and impact of sexual violence on children in the Eastern DRC. Semi-structured questionnaires were administered among a convenience sample of women 518 years of age presenting for post-sexual-violence care at Panzi Hospital in South Kivu, DRC. Analysis included quantitative and qualitative methods to describe the characteristics of the violence, perpetrators, and survivors and to illuminate common themes within the narratives. A total of 389 survivors of SGBV under the age of 18 were interviewed between 2004 and 2008. These paediatric survivors were more likely than adult survivors to have experienced gang rape, been attacked by a civilian perpetrator, and been assaulted during the day. Survivor and perpetrator characteristics were further stratified by type of attack. Reports of violence perpetrated by civilians increased 39-fold while reports of violence perpetrated by armed combatants decreased by 70% between 2004 and 2008. Qualitative analysis of the narratives revealed common themes, such as physical signs and symptoms among SGBV survivors (23.9%), pregnancy resulting from rape (19.3%), perpetrators being brought to justice (18.3%), and neighbourhood men as perpetrators (17.7%). Children in the Eastern DRC continue to face significant threats of sexual violence. By understanding the patterns of this violence, local and international approaches could be more effectively implemented to protect these vulnerable children. 


Keywords: children, conflict, Democratic Republic of Congo, paediatric, rape, sexual violence, war

Topics: Age, Youth, Armed Conflict, Gender, Girls, Sexual Violence, Rape Regions: Africa, Central Africa Countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Year: 2011

Responding to the Needs of Survivors of Sexual Violence: Do We Know What Works?


Schopper, Doris. 2014. “Responding to the Needs of Survivors of Sexual Violence: Do We Know What Works?” International Committee of the Red Cross 96 (894): 584–600.

Author: Doris Schopper


During the past twelve months, the issue of sexual violence in conflict and emergencies has received an unprecedented amount of attention at the highest political and institutional levels. In 2013, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) launched a Call to Action to mobilize donors, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other stakeholders on protecting women and girls in humanitarian emergencies, culminating in the high-level event “Protecting Girls and Women in Emergencies” in November 2013. As of August 2014, over forty partners (including governments, United Nations (UN) agencies and NGOs) had made commitments to the Call to Action. Furthermore, in June 2014 the “Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict”, co-chaired by the UK Foreign Secretary and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), gathered 1,700 delegates and 129 country delegations. In his summary, the chair of the Global Summit states: “We must apply the lessons we have learned and move from condemnation to concrete action. We must all live up to the commitments we have made.”

Keywords: evidence-based programming, medical care, psychosocial support, effectiveness, evaluation, research, sexual violence

Topics: Armed Conflict, Development, Gender, Women, Girls, Humanitarian Assistance, NGOs, Sexual Violence

Year: 2015

Situating Sexual Violence in Rwanda (1990-2001): Sexual Agency, Sexual Consent, and the Political Economy of War


Bumet, Jennie E. 2012. “Situating Sexual Violence in Rwanda (1990–2001): Sexual Agency, Sexual Consent, and the Political Economy of War.” African Studies Review 55 (2): 97–118. doi:10.1353/arw.2012.0034.


Author: Jennie E. Bumet


This article situates the sexual violence associated with the Rwandan civil war and 1994 genocide within a local cultural history and political economy in which institutionalized gender violence shaped the choices of Rwandan women and girls. Based on ethnographic research, it argues that Western notions of sexual consent are not applicable to a culture in which colonialism, government policy, war, and scarcity of resources have limited women's access to land ownership, economic security, and other means of survival. It examines emic cultural models of sexual consent and female sexual agency and proposes that sexual slavery, forced marriage, prostitution, transactional sex, nonmarital sex, informal marriage or cohabitation, and customary (bridewealth) marriages exist on a continuum on which female sexual agency becomes more and more constrained by material circumstance. Even when women's choices are limited, women still exercise their agency to survive. Conflating all forms of sex in conflict zones under the rubric of harm undermines women's and children's rights because it reinforces gendered hierarchies and diverts attention from the structural conditions of poverty in postconflict societies.

Topics: Gender, Women, Girls, Gender Analysis, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Hierarchies, Livelihoods, Political Economies, Post-Conflict, Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence, SV against Women Regions: Africa, Central Africa, East Africa Countries: Rwanda

Year: 2012

Interdependent Preferences, Militarism, and Child Gender


Urbatsch, R. “Interdependent Preferences, Militarism, and Child Gender.” International Studies Quarterly 53, no. 1 (March 1, 2009): 1–21. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2478.2008.01521.x.

Author: R. Urbatsch


Selection effects make it difficult to determine whether concern for other people genuinely affects individuals’ policy preferences. Child gender provides a conveniently exogenous means of exploring the issue, especially in contexts such as military policy where girls and boys face different risks; in many countries male children are disproportionately likely to become soldiers and thus bear the costs of militarism. This creates divergent effects: those in households with girls generally prefer more hawkish foreign policies than do members of households with boys. Data from the 2004 American National Election Study confirm these intuitions, both in general statements of policy preference and in evaluating the net costs of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Female Combatants, Male Combatants, Gender, Girls, Boys, Gender Balance, Elections, Households Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2009

The State of Female Youth in Northern Uganda: Findings From the Survey of War-Affected Youth (SWAY) Phase II

Citation: Annan, Jeannie, Christopher Blattman, Khristopher Carlson, and Dyan Mazurana. 2008. “The State of Female Youth in Northern Uganda: Findings from the Survey of War-Affected Youth (SWAY) Phase II.” II. Survey of War-Affected Youth. 


Authors: Jeannie Annan, Christopher Blattman, Khristopher Carlson, Dyan Mazurana


The Survey for War Affected Youth (SWAY) is a research program dedicated to evidence-based humanitarian aid and development. SWAY employs new data, tools, and analysis to improve the design and targeting of protection, assistance, and reintegration programs for youth in northern Uganda. Youth have been both the primary victims and the primary actors in the protracted war between the Government of Uganda (GoU) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). It is not clear, however, exactly who is suffering, how much, and in what ways. We also have little sense of the magnitude, incidence, and nature of the violence, trauma, and suffering of youth in northern Uganda. Our understanding of the effects of war on women and girls is especially lacking, whether they abducted or impacted in other ways. Government and NGO officials admit that they have little sense of the true scale of the problems facing young women and the proportion of females facing particular vulnerabilities. As a result, programming is based on immediate and observable needs and possibly erroneous assumptions about who requires assistance and what assistance they need. Likewise, with only rough measures of well-being available, targeting of services has been crude. The overarching purpose of SWAY is to work with service providers to generate better evidence-based programming. This report begins with a section describing methodology, before proceeding to theme-focused sections. As peace talks being brokered by the Government of Southern Sudan offer the prospect of an end to one of Africa’s longest conflicts, we conclude by offering specific recommendations to the GoU and international and local agencies operating in northern Uganda. (Executive Summary)

Topics: Age, Youth, Education, Gender, Women, Girls, Gendered Power Relations, Humanitarian Assistance, Livelihoods, Militarized Livelihoods, Sexual Livelihoods, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2008

Women's Potential in Dealing with Natural Disasters: A Case Study from Sri Lanka


Jayarathne, Saranga Subhashini. “Women’s Potential in Dealing with Natural Disasters: A Case Study from Sri Lanka.” Asian Journal of Women’s Studies 20, no. 1 (January 1, 2014): 125–36. doi:10.1080/12259276.2014.11666175.

Author: Saranga Subhashini Jayarathne


Disaster is gender indifferent but its impact is usually gender differentiated. The 2004 Tsunami statistics show that male survivors in Sri Lanka outnumbered female survivors. The notion of women being the “weaker sex’ gives them limited space for learning physical skills that are deemed vital for surviving disasters. Their knowledge and experience regarding the environment is always undermined. This further limits and discourages them from contributing towards disaster management. Women should be incorporated at every level in the disaster management cycle. Women-centered public awareness and skills training can help increase women and children's disaster preparedness and equip them with the skills necessary to overcome disasters. Women's participation in national-level decision-making is also a necessity. A gender-blind disaster management system can only worsen the impact of disasters, especially for women and girls. This paper challenges the depiction of women as mere victims of disasters, while attempting to point out the vital nexus between women's untapped potential and disaster management.

Keywords: disasters, vulnerability, women, untapped potential

Topics: Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender Roles, Gender Analysis, Gender Balance, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Governance Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Sri Lanka

Year: 2014


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