While refugee camps can protect children from harm, they can also introduce new risks and vulnerabilities. Research suggests that adolescent girls are at particular risk for gender-based violence and sexual exploitation.
This study aimed to identify existing social and economic vulnerabilities of female adolescents in refugee camps in Rwanda.
Participants and setting
Research was carried out in two Congolese refugee camps in Rwanda.
Ten focus group discussions (FGDs) were held with 87 boys and 79 girls aged 12–17 years Six FGDs were held with a total of 36 parents and caregivers in the two camps. Key informant interviews were held with nine local and national level stakeholders.
Study findings centered upon intersectionality. Camps designed for security and containment introduced new forms of vulnerability and threats. Economic stressors threatened the viability of families. Girls had material needs but few options to meet those needs within the camps. Their families expected them to do domestic work at home. Participants reported that the convergence of material deprivation, lack of economic opportunity, and vulnerability led to transactional sex and exploitation within and around the camps. The study concludes that vulnerabilities and threats associated with gender and generation must be examined concurrently with the conditions associated with being a refugee in a setting of protracted displacement.
Corporate Author: Timothy P Williams, Vidur Chopra & Sharon R Chikanya