I am pleased to share a new paper on child protection and exploitation in refugee camps in Rwanda, published in the journal, Child Abuse & Neglect, a top-ranked journal for social work and public health practitioners and policy audiences.
The paper, titled “It isn’t that we’re prostitutes”: Child protection and sexual exploitation of adolescent girls within and beyond refugee camps in Rwanda, draws on data from a baseline study from a collaboration with Plan International in advance of a project they were developing focused on empowering female adolescents in two refugee camps in Rwanda.
Findings from this qualitative study centered upon intersectionality. Camps designed for security and containment also 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.
This paper wouldn’t have been possible without Plan’s support, along with the contributions of the two co-authors of the study, including Vidur Chopra, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard and expert in refugee education, and Sharon Chikanya, who led the coordination of the Plan International project.
This paper was a neat offshoot of the baseline study, illustrative of the way that NGOs can work with researchers to advance evidence-based programming and advocacy.