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Psychosocial support for SGBV survivors in refugee settings

Uganda -

Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) is a global social, and public health concern that harms women, girls, men, and boys and severely violates human rights. SGBV remains rampant in Uganda.

Refugees have a heightened risk of experiencing SGBV due to the protracted nature of forced displacement. Relatedly, SGBV incidents in refugee settlements and host communities are attributed to cultural beliefs and security lapses. Other factors fueling SGBV include the lack of trust among couples, land wrangles, economic pressures, unaddressed trauma, substance abuse, and a general breakdown of society’s core functions.

The majority of the SGBV incidents are not reported and as such, go unpunished. Partly this is due to the limited awareness of how and where to report the perpetrators. Survivors prefer to use informal justice systems—such as cultural leaders; traditional leaders and the refugee welfare committees (RWCs) instead of formal justice systems including Police and courts of law. This is because the latter structures are perceived as challenged by the language barrier; corruption; lengthy procedural formalities. Ultimately, SGBV has a bearing on survivors’ and their family’s emotional and mental well-being and social and economic aspects.

Against the above background, LASPNET, CORDAID and TPO conducted a study in refugee settlements in West Nile to examine how mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) interventions can be mainstreamed in existing services for (S)GBV survivors faced with a humanitarian environment in Uganda. The brief is based on the study report and follows a quantitative and qualitative survey in 4 West Nile districts, i.e. Adjumani, Arua, Moyo and Yumbe.

Board game

Cordaid has created a storytelling board game for girls and women, to experience decision-making power and autonomy. There are multiple scenarios in which the main character, Maria, has to decide between various options. The options are not distinct from each other by good or bad choices, not at all. The decision-making options are there for the players to think and reflect on what type of decisions there are: Do I make this decision for me or for someone else? Is this a decision that has a short-term or a long-term effect?

It is crucial for girls and women to know that they have the power to make decisions. Let’s play the game!