Effects of sexual and gender based violence on the livelihoods of refugee women in Uganda: A case of Palabek Refugee Settlement, Lamwo District
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Despite several attempts to eliminate SGBV among refugees over the years, the rates of violence in the refugee households are still rampantly increasing. This qualitative study with a case study research design explored the lived experiences of SGBV refugee women survivors, the level of awareness among the refugee women about SGBV and the existing interventions in place to address SGBV among the refugees. The experiences of the SGBV refugee women survivors were examined to give a clear picture of how SGBV affects the livelihood activities of these refugee women as they try to survive and cope with the new environment and living conditions. Individual face-to-face in-depth interviews were conducted with ten SGBV refugee women survivors, key informant interviews with seven protection officers both from the government and Non-Governmental Organizations were also conducted. Thematic analysis was used to analyze data collected. The study results revealed that the SGBV refugee women survivors face several challenges including physical injuries, destruction of property, unwanted pregnancies, separation of family members, grabbing and selling of property, isolation and discrimination and excess drinking of alcohol. The level of awareness about SGBV among the SGBV refugee women survivors was influenced by culture, stigma and embarrassment, patriarchal domination and perceptions on the forms of SGBV. In order to restore and improve the livelihood conditions of SGBV refugee women survivors, interventions such as implementation of community by-laws, establishment of gender-response action groups, existence of women cultural groups, community dialogue, relocation of SGBV refugee women survivors, creation of farming groups, establishment of VSLAs and community education are in place. Though these interventions highly impacted on the lives of the SGBV refugee women survivors, they left out most of the refugee men thus making it difficult to completely eradicate SGBV from refugee communities. The study therefore recommends that the government and Non-Governmental Organizations should put in place interventions that cater for the needs of both refugee men and women so as to completely solve the problem of SGBV.