Publications & Reports

Programme potential for the prevention of and response to sexual violence among female refugees: a literature review.

Gianna Maxi Leila Robbers, Alison Morgan
a MPH Graduate of the University of Melbourne, Nossal Institute for Global Health, University of Melbourne , Melbourne , VIC , Australia.


Continuing international conflict has resulted in several million people seeking asylum in other countries each year, over half of whom are women. Their reception and security in overburdened camps, combined with limited information and protection, increases their risk and exposure to sexual violence (SV). This literature review explores the opportunities to address SV against female refugees, with a particular focus on low-resource settings. A systematic literature review of articles published between 2000 and 2016 was conducted following PRISMA guidelines. Databases including Medline (Ovid), PubMed, Scopus, PsychINFO, CINAHL and the Cochrane Library. Grey literature from key refugee websites were searched. Studies were reviewed for quality and analysed according to the framework outlined in the UNHCR Guidelines on Prevention and Response of Sexual Violence against Refugees. Twenty-nine studies met the inclusion criteria, of which 7 studies addressed prevention, 14 studies response and 8 addressed both. There are limited numbers of rigorously evaluated SV prevention and response interventions available, especially in the context of displacement. However, emerging evidence shows that placing a stronger emphasis on programmes in the category of engagement/participation and training/education has the potential to target underlying causes of SV. SV against female refugees is caused by factors including lack of information and gender inequality. This review suggests that SV interventions that engage community members in their design and delivery, address harmful gender norms through education and advocacy, and facilitate strong cooperation between stakeholders, could maximise the efficient use of limited resources.


  • Journal: Reproductive Health Matters
  • Published: 01/11/2017
  • Volume: 25
  • Issue: 51
  • Pagination: 69-89