Attitudes and perceptions towards gender based violence among urban refugees in Kampala
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Background: This study examined community attitudes and perceptions towards gender-based violence (GBV)among urban refugees in Kampala. The study objectives were to; explore the knowledge and practices of the urban refugees towards GBV, and; assess the awareness and perceptions of urban refugees towards GBV. Methods: The study employed a cross sectional survey design. The study approach was predominantly quantitative. Data were collected using a semi structured questionnaire. A total of 70 urban refugee women and men were interviewed using a semi structured questionnaire. Information gathered from the refugees was complimented with data gathered from discussions with key informants i.e. 5 key informants who were 2 police officers, 1 refugee resident and 2 refugee community leaders. Data collected was analyzed using SPSS software. Findings: About 42.3% and 22.5% of the refugees agreed and strongly agreed respectively with the statement that “reporting GBV opens room for stigmatization” which showed a negative attitude towards reporting GBV cases. I found that majority of the respondents did not support acts of GBV among refugees which was portrayed when 50% and 32.4% of the respondents said they strongly disagreed and disagreed respectively when asked “is it okay for a man to force a woman to have sex?”. I also found that a majority of refugees had a good idea about gender-based violence and its practices which was seen when 38% of the respondents agreed with the statement that “poor people are more abusive in relationships than other groups”. I was further informed that refugees were aware of the existence of GBV in their communities which was portrayed when a key informant (women’s leader) told the researcher that female genital mutilation (FGM) has been persistent in their community because it was part of the cultural norms; she narrated that “it is a practice (FGM) that has been done even back in our home country”. Conclusion: Results suggest that whereas refugees are aware of the existence of gender-based violence in their own communities and understand the negative effects associated with GBV such as physical injury, disability, trauma, sexually transmitted diseases, and in some cases death of the victim; some community members still had negative attitudes and perceptions towards GBV due to a combination of factors such as the low level of effectiveness of local authorities, poverty, and cultural influence which further cripple refugees’ attempts to fight the GBV phenomenon. Therefore, more efforts should be put in increasing awareness about GBV so as to attempt to change the attitudes and perceptions towards GBV among refugees.