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Gender, Social Support and Posttraumatic Stress in Postwar Kosovo


Ahern, Jennifer, Sandro Galea, William G. Fernandez, Bajram Koci, Ronald Waldman, and David Vlahov. 2004. "Gender, Social Support and Posttraumatic Stress in Postwar Kosovo." The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 192 (11): 762-770.

Authors: Jennifer Ahern, Sandro Galea, William G. Fernandez, Bajram Koci, Ronald Waldman, David Vlahov


The effects of social support and traumatic experiences on mental health in conflict situations may be different by gender. The Kosovo Emergency Department Study was conducted in July and August 2001 to assess mental health 2 years after the end of the war in Kosovo. Of 306 emergency department patients (87.7% response rate), all were ethnic Albanian, 97.4% had experienced traumatic events, and 89.5% had posttraumatic stress symptoms. Women and persons who experienced more traumatic events had higher posttraumatic stress scores. Persons with social support had lower posttraumatic stress scores. In a final model, social support had a greater protective effect for women, whereas traumatic events had a greater detrimental effect on men. Two years after the war in Kosovo, there remained a high prevalence of posttraumatic stress symptoms, particularly among women with low social support. Interventions targeting social support may be important public health efforts in the postwar context.

Keywords: social support, trauma, posttraumatic stress, public health, mental health

Topics: Gender, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance, Context-Appropriate Response to Trauma, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Kosovo

Year: 2004

The Politics of Culture in Humanitarian Aid to Women Refugees Who Have Experienced Sexual Violence


Atlani, Laetitia, and Cecile Rousseau. 2000. "The Politics of Culture in Humanitarian Aid to Women Refugees Who Have Experienced Sexual Violence." Transcultural Psychiatry 37 (3): 435-49.

Authors: Laetitia Atlani, Cecile Rousseau


There is a growing sense of urgency within international humanitarian aid agencies to intervene quickly when faced with organized violence stemming from war or armed conflict. From this perspective, the rape of refugees calls for prompt psychological intervention. Beyond this sense of urgency, the premises underlying the different models of humanitarian intervention being utilized require further documentation. What concepts and practices characterize the mental health interventions for refugee women who have suffered sexual violence? How is transcultural psychiatry conceived and practised in refugee camps? How is ‘refugee culture’ defined? What do these definitions imply when translated into therapeutic care to rape victims? This article discusses these issues, and raises some concerns about the appropriateness and the scope of UN and nongovernmental approaches. 

Keywords: humanitarian aid, sexual violence, refugee, culture, documentation, mental health, transcultural psychiatry, mental health intervention

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Refugee/IDP Camps, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Humanitarian Assistance, Context-Appropriate Response to Trauma, International Organizations, NGOs, Sexual Violence, Rape, Violence

Year: 2000

The Less They Know, the Better: Abstinence-Only HIV/AIDS Programs in Uganda


Cohen, Jonathan, and Tony Tate. 2006. "The Less They Know, the Better: Abstinence-Only HIV/AIDS Programs in Uganda." Reproductive Health Matters 14 (28): 174-8.

Authors: Jonathan Cohen, Tony Tate


Widely hailed as a leader in the prevention of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), Uganda is redirecting its HIV prevention strategy for young people away from scientifically proven and effective strategies toward ideologically driven programs that focus primarily on promoting sexual abstinence until marriage. Although endorsed by some powerful religious and political leaders in Uganda, this policy and programmatic shift is nonetheless orchestrated and funded by the United States government. Pioneered in the United States in 1981, “abstinence until marriage” programs (also known as “abstinence only” programs) teach that abstaining from sex until marriage is the only effective method of HIV prevention and that marriage between a man and a woman is the expected standard of human sexual behavior. Numerous U.S.-funded studies have shown these programs to be ineffective at changing young people’s sexual behaviors and to cause potential harm by discouraging the use of contraception. The effect of Uganda’s new direction in HIV prevention is thus to replace existing, sound public health strategies with unproven and potentially life-threatening messages, impeding the realization of the human right to information, to the highest attainable standard of health, and to life.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS


Abstinence-only HIV/AIDS programs have no relevance for LGBT individuals in Uganda, as the government denies the very existence of LGBT individuals. This report recommends that “the special needs of vulnerable populations [including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons] are explicitly recognized in national and local HIV prevention policies and programs.” (178)

Topics: Gender, Health, HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health, Sexuality Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Uganda

Year: 2006

Women, Children and Returnees


Arnvig, Eva. 1994. "Women, Children and Returnees." In Between Hope and Insecurity: The Social Consequences of the Cambodian Peace Process, edited by Peter Utting, 83-103. Geneva: United Nations Research Institute Social Development.

Author: Eva Arnvig


This chapter examines the situation of women, children and returnees in Cambodia and the social impact of the large-scale United Nations presence. Following a brief description of certain general aspects related to family traditions, the position of women in the economy, education and health, the chapter examines a number of social and socio-psychological problems that have risen to the fore in recent years. These include post-war trauma, the reintegration of refugees, prostitution, drugs and street children. Particular attention is focused on the extent to which the behaviour of United Nations peace-keeping and security personnel may have contributed to certain social problems as well as the souring of relations between UNTAC and the host population.


  • Families who have issues assimilating after times of conflict face having to sell their children or allow their children to enter urban areas as street children or prostitutes. Other children are forced to work in plantations to earn money offering a stark change from growing up in refugee camps.

  • Many indigenous peoples blame UNTAC for increases in sexually transmitted infections, street crimes, poverty, and starvation for being unable to efficiently and successfully offer aid in the reintegration process.


“The Total Institution Syndrome has a serious affect on mental attitude and behaviour. It manifests itself in apathy, aggression, violent behaviour, abrupt changes of mood, depression and tiredness along with physical disorders such as headaches and stomach problems.” (92)

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance, International Organizations, Livelihoods, Sexual livelihoods, Peacekeeping, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia

Year: 1994

No More Tears Sister: Anatomy of Hope and Betrayal

"A story of love, revolution and betrayal, No More Tears Sister explores the price of truth in times of war. Set during the violent ethnic conflict that has enveloped Sri Lanka over decades, the film recreates the courageous and vibrant life of renowned human rights activist Dr. Rajani Thiranagama. Mother, anatomy professor, author and symbol of hope, Thiranagama's commitment to truth and human rights led to her assassination at the age of 35.

New Directions

"New Directions is award-winning documentarian Joanne Burke's series about women's empowerment in developing countries.


"Lioness tells the story of a group of female Army support soldiers who were part of the first program in American history to send women into direct ground combat. Without the same training as their male counterparts but with a commitment to serve as needed, these young women fought in some of the bloodiest counterinsurgency battles of the Iraq War and returned home as part of this countries generation of female combat veterans. Lioness makes public, for the first time, their hidden history.


"An ihuriro is a traditional Rwandan collective community effort to achieve something practical for households. This might be working on each other's land in turn, caring for elders or rebuilding a house.


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