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Archives for March 2013

Domestic Violence in a Refugee Context

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View the Domestic Violence Annotated Bibliography

Domestic Violence Annotated Bibliography

PSYCHOLOGICAL  

Bowland, S., Edmond, T., & Fallot, R. D. (2012). Evaluation of a spiritually focused intervention with older trauma survivors. Social Work, 57 (1), 73-82.

This study evaluated the effectiveness of an 11-session, spiritually focused group intervention with older women survivors (age 55 and older) of interpersonal trauma (child abuse, sexual assault, or domestic violence) in reducing trauma-related depressive symptoms, post-traumatic stress, and anxiety. Forty-three community-dwelling women survivors of interpersonal trauma were randomized into treatment (n=21) or control (n=22) groups. Participants in group psychotherapy discussed spiritual struggles related to abuse, and developed spiritual coping resources. The treatment group had significantly lower depressive symptoms, anxiety, and physical symptoms at post-test compared with the control group. In a separate analysis, post-traumatic stress symptoms also dropped significantly in the treatment group. Gains were maintained at three-month follow-up. This study provides initial support for the effectiveness of spiritually focused group intervention for older survivors of interpersonal trauma from a Christian background.

Brooks, S. L. (2008). The use of the creative therapies with survivors of domestic violence. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas Publisher LTD.

This comprehensive work examines the use of art, play, music, dance/movement, drama, and supervision with respect to treatment issues relating to family violence. The author’s primary purpose is to examine treatment approaches that cover the broad spectrum of the creative art therapies.

Ehrensaft, M. K., Cohen, P., Brown, J., Smailes, E., Chen, H., & Johnson, J. G. (2003). Intergenerational transmission of partner violence: A 20-year prospective study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71, 741-753.

An unselected sample of 543 children was followed over 20 years to test the independent effects of parenting, exposure to domestic violence between parents (ETDV), maltreatment, adolescent disruptive behavior disorders, and emerging adult substance abuse disorders (SUDs) on the risk of violence to and from an adult partner. Conduct disorder (CD) was the strongest risk for perpetrating partner violence for both sexes, followed by ETDV, and power assertive punishment. The effect of child abuse was attributable to these 3 risks. ETDV conferred the greatest risk of receiving partner violence; CD increased the odds of receiving partner violence but did not mediate this effect. Child physical abuse and CD in adolescence were strong independent risks for injury to a partner. SUD mediated the effect of adolescent CD on injury to a partner but not on injury by a partner. Prevention implications are highlighted.

Gray, M. J. & Hassija, C. (2011). The effectiveness and feasibility of videoconferencing technology to provide evidence based treatment to rural domestic violence and sexual assault populations. Telemedicine and e-Health, 17(4), 309-315.

Participants in the present study were clients referred to the Wyoming Trauma Telehealth Treatment Clinic (WTTTC) for psychological services via videoconferencing from distal domestic violence and rape crisis centers located in the state of Wyoming. Fifteen female victims of assaultive violence who received at least four sessions of trauma-focused treatment via videoconferencing-based technology at distal rape and domestic violence crisis centers were included in the present study. Participants completed measures of PTSD and depression symptom severity and client satisfaction. Participants evidenced large reductions on measure of PTSD (d=1.17) and depression (d=1.24) symptom severity following treatment via videoconferencing. Additionally, participants reported a high degree of satisfaction with videoconferencing-administered services. Results provide evidence in support of videoconferencing as an effective means to provide psychological services to rural domestic violence and sexual assault populations. Clinical implications and avenues for future research are discussed.

Johnson K, Asher J, Rosborough S, Raja A, Panjabi R, Beadling C, Lawry J. (2008). Association of combatant status and sexual violence with health and mental health outcomes in post conflict Liberia. Journal of the American Medical Association, 300(6), 676-690.

The authors assessed the prevalence and impact of war-related psychosocial trauma, including information on participation in the Liberian civil wars, exposure to sexual violence, social functioning, and mental health. A cross-sectional, population-based, multistage random cluster survey of 1666 adults aged 18 years or older using structured interviews and questionnaires, conducted during a 3-week period in May 2008 in Liberia resulted in finding symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social functioning, exposure to sexual violence, and health and mental health needs among Liberian adults who witnessed or participated in the conflicts during the last 2 decades.

Keim, J., Olguin, D. L., & Strauser, D. R. (2009). Enhancing employment outcomes for survivors of intimate partner violence: A developmental work personality perspective. Journal of Employment Counseling, 46(3), 136-144.

Rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) are high. Many survivors elect to leave abusive relationships and seek treatment to address the abusive cycle and psychiatric symptoms that may result. Programs to assist survivors often include an employment component. This article discusses the use of the Developmental Work Personality Scale (D.R. Strauser & J. Kleim, 2002) in assessment and counseling, to assist survivors of IPV with obtaining successful employment outcomes.

Knight, C. (2006). Groups for individuals with traumatic histories: Practice considerations for social workers. Social Work, 51(1), 20-30.

Based on the notion of mutual aid, a conceptual framework for understanding how membership in a group benefits survivors of trauma is presented. Incorporating current research and theory, this article discusses distinguishing features of these groups, as well as professional challenges social workers are likely to face in facilitating them.

Murphy, C. M., O’farrell, T. J., & Van Hutton, V. (1999). Domestic violence before and after alcoholism treatment: A two-year longitudinal study. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 60(3), 317-321.

An initial study of 88 male alcoholics and their wives had shown that domestic violence decreased significantly in the year following a behavioral marital therapy (BMT) alcoholism treatment program. To determine if violence reductions were stable, the present study examined domestic violence during the second year following BMT for the 75 couples who provided 2-year follow-up data on violence. Husband-to-wife violence occurred in nearly two-thirds of cases in the year before BMT. For both the first and second year after BMT, violence was significantly reduced and the extent of violence  was associated with the extent of the alcoholics’ drinking. Frequency of post treatment drinking was positively correlated with violence, and remitted alcoholics no longer had elevated domestic violence levels when compared with matched controls whereas relapsed alcoholics did. Analyses using various assumptions about violence did not invalidate the present results. The results indicate that domestic violence decreased after BMT alcoholism treatment. Further, among remitted alcoholics, violence returned to the level experienced by other American families, in the same way that other aspects of marital, family and psychosocial functioning improve after successful treatment of alcoholism.

Sliep, Y., Wiengarten, K., & Gilbert, A. (2004). Narrative theatre as an interactive community approach to mobilizing collective action in Northern Uganda. Families,Systems, and Health, 22(3), 306-320.

The authors describe an interactive community approach that addressed the issue of domestic violence in a refugee camp in northern Uganda. Domestic violence had emerged at the time as one of the residents’ most significant health problems. Based on principles of narrative therapy and Forum Theatre, this community-based approach, named Narrative Theatre by the community workers themselves, sought to address the causes and alter the trajectory of the potential outcomes of domestic violence at both the individual and community levels. The approach exemplifies working collaboratively with local psychosocial workers. The authors elucidate the participatory and contextually sensitive nature of Narrative Theatre, its ability to work individually as well as collectively, and its potential to keep the focus on local dynamics. The limits and potential of the strategy in terms of working recursively between individuals and society to address issues of social health are considered.

MEDICAL

Ethno Med. (2013). Retrieved from ethnomed.org

EthnoMed contains information about cultural beliefs, medical issues and related topics pertinent to the health care of immigrants to Seattle or the US, many of whom are refugees fleeing war-torn parts of the world.

LEGAL

Couldrey, M. & Morris, T. (Eds.) (2007). Sexual violence: Weapon of war, impediment to peace. Forced Migration Review, 27. Retrieved from www.fmreview.org/sites/fmr/files/FMRdownloads/en/FMRpdfs/FMR27/full.pdf

This special issue of Forced Migration Review was inspired by the International Symposium on Sexual Violence in Conflict and Beyond in June 2006. The authors argue that it is imperative to work in joint initiatives, rather than in parallel but unconnected efforts. A number of UN agencies are today starting to work together to intensify their efforts in combating sexual violence and to bring a more intensive, collaborative and effective response. The authors seek to shed light on the necessity to address sexual violence as a crime, a humanitarian emergency and a major challenge to all development efforts. Far from being a specific niche issue, sexual violence is an indicator of the most severe breach of human security. As the articles in this issue explain, it is closely related to food aid, firewood collection and HIV/AIDS. It directly affects women and girls but also men and boys – and destroys the fabric of families and communities. Punishing its perpetrators would contribute to restoring trust in the judicial system. Preventing it would spare disproportionate human and financial costs to reconstructing nations. Reducing sexual violence in all war-affected countries will be a true sign of national recovery.

Dunlap, J. A. (2012). Intimate terrorism and technology: there’s an app for that. UMass Law Review, 7(1), 10-38.

Technology enhances the ability of the domestic violence perpetrator. It also holds the promise of assisting domestic violence survivors in their quest for safety. This is true in practical, daily ways and is becoming increasingly true in the legal treatment of these cases. Perpetrators can use technology to stalk and find their victims; survivors can use it to access necessary information to get away from their batterers. Laws are being amended to take into account cyber-enhanced domestic violence techniques. Domestic or intimate terrorists are among the class of criminals targeted for use of GPS monitoring. This article discusses the way that technology is used as a batterer’s tool in exerting coercive control over a victim. It will also look at the changes in the laws as the legal system strives to keep pace with the rapid advancement of technology. In particular, the recent use of GPS monitoring of intimate terrorists will be analyzed. This analysis will identify some of the problems associated with the on-going legal changes.

UNHCR (2003). Returnees and internally displaced persons: Guidelines for prevention and response. UNHCR. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/emerg/files/gl_sgbv03.pdf

UNHCR first published Sexual Violence against Refugees: Guidelines on Prevention and Response in 1995. Since 1995, many lessons have been learned concerning individual, institutional and national responsibilities for implementing the Guidelines and for providing protection to uprooted persons.

Throughout those years, UNHCR, other UN agencies, governmental and non-governmental organizations, refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons have evaluated the programs and activities suggested in the Guidelines in the context of complex emergency situations. Recommendations included strengthening institutional commitment by developing a Code of Conduct for humanitarian workers; setting common minimum standards for addressing sexual and gender-based violence; supporting the allocation and management of adequate funding and staff; and integrating a gender-equality perspective in institutional practices. Participants emphasized the need to engage the refugee community in all stages of program delivery: design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

EXPRESSIVE ARTS

Brooks, S. L. (2008). The use of the creative therapies with survivors of domestic violence. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas Publisher LTD.

This comprehensive work examines the use of art, play, music, dance/movement, drama, and supervision with respect to treatment issues relating to family violence. The author’s primary purpose is to examine treatment approaches that cover the broad spectrum of the creative art therapies.

Sliep, Y., Wiengarten, K., & Gilbert, A. (2004). Narrative theatre as an interactive community approach to mobilizing collective action in Northern Uganda. Families,Systems, and Health, 22(3), 306-320.

The authors describe an interactive community approach that addressed the issue of domestic violence in a refugee camp in northern Uganda. Domestic violence had emerged at the time as one of the residents’ most significant health problems. Based on principles of narrative therapy and Forum Theatre, this community-based approach, named Narrative Theatre by the community workers themselves, sought to address the causes and alter the trajectory of the potential outcomes of domestic violence at both the individual and community levels. The approach exemplifies working collaboratively with local psychosocial workers. The authors elucidate the participatory and contextually sensitive nature of Narrative Theatre, its ability to work individually as well as collectively, and its potential to keep the focus on local dynamics. The limits and potential of the strategy in terms of working recursively between individuals and society to address issues of social health are considered.

SOCIAL

Bhuyan, R. (2005). “Women must endure according to their karma”: Cambodian immigrant women talk about domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 20(8), 902-921.

Part of a special issue on domestic violence among refugee and immigrant women. A study was conducted to explore the issue of domestic violence among Cambodian immigrants. Data were obtained from focus group interviews with 39 Cambodian women in Seattle, Washington. Findings revealed that the women’s discussion of domestic violence was influenced by a combination of factors, including adherence to patriarchal cultural traditions, exposure to trauma during war and migration, adjustment to life in the U.S., and systemic barriers faced as resettled refugees. Findings are discussed in detail.

Bhuyan, R. (2005). Understanding domestic violence resource utilization and survivor solutions among immigrant and refugee women: Introduction to the special issue. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 20, 895-901.

The articles in this issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence were generated using community-based participatory action research to explore how different cultural communities interpret and respond to domestic violence (DV). This issue includes an analysis of the participatory action research process, in addition to four articles that delve into the specific results for women in the Russian-speaking, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Ethiopian groups. One article illustrates that for women coming from war-torn regions of the world, DV occurs against the backdrop of historic trauma arising from war and migration. For women in the Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Ethiopian communities, DV is one more experience of violence in addition to many others experienced and witnessed prior to immigration. Another article describes how Russian women who immigrate as so-called mail order brides have the additional challenge of overcoming profound isolation and dependence on their American husbands. The community at large needs to get involved. Culturally and linguistically appropriate public education campaigns need to be implemented to raise awareness about DV and how survivors can get help.

Clark, C. (2003). Gender-based violence research initiatives in refugee, internally displaced, and post-conflict settings: Lessons learned. Inter-University Committee on International Migration. Retrieved from web.mit.edu/cis/www/migration/pubs/rrwp/17_lessons.pdf

This project was designed to identify and analyze GBV studies, with a view to the conditions under which they were conducted, their strengths and limitations, and their impact on international and local programming. For these purposes, loosely structured qualitative interviews were conducted with local, international, and UN organization personnel. In addition, focus groups were held with refugee and IDP populations in Azerbaijan, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The author argues that continued and improved research is much needed, particularly involving local NGOs. Minor adjustments in research design and implementation could greatly enhance the generalizability, validity, and comparability of the findings. One adjustment advocated in this report is the utilization of a standardized questionnaire and research protocol, in order to facilitate the design and implementation of high quality GBV research in multiple refugee, IDP, and post-conflict settings. Online assistance in the form of research guides and a theoretically sound, field-tested sample questionnaire could facilitate the exchange of information and experience. Equally needed is continuing qualitative research. The few initiatives that used a qualitative component were also the most comprehensive and informative, contextualizing the numeric representation of GBV within the service, legal, and cultural context in which GBV is perpetrated and experienced.

Collier, P. & Hoeffler, (2004). Greed and grievance in civil war. Oxford Economic Papers, 56(4), 563-595.

The authors investigated the causes of civil war, using a new data set of wars during 1960-99. They tested a `greed’ theory focusing on the ability to finance rebellion, against a `grievance’ theory focusing on ethnic and religious divisions, political repression and inequality. The authors concluded that greed considerably outperforms grievance. Consistent with the greed theory, both dependence upon primary commodity exports and a large diaspora substantially increase the risk of conflict. Inconsistent with the grievance theory, greater ethnic and religious diversity reduce the risk of conflict. The results are robust to correction for outliers, alternative variable definition, and variations in estimation method.

Corvo, K. (2006). Violence, separation, and loss in the families of origin of domestically violent men. Journal of Family Violence, 21(2), 117- 125.

The inter-generational transmission of domestic violence is most commonly studied from the perspective of social learning theory, with the consequence that variables external to that perspective are often overlooked. This study was undertaken in an effort to broaden the theoretical basis of intergenerational transmission of domestic violence by assessing if incorporating variables from attachment theory (measures of separation and loss) with exposure to violence in family of origin would increase predictive power of a multiple regression model. Subjects (N=74) were men in treatment for domestic violence. Separation and loss variables were found to exert effects on respondents’ violent behavior greater than or comparable to those from exposure to family of origin violence. Findings supported a need to broaden theoretical views of the etiology of domestic violence perpetration.

Dahle, A. (2011). Small arms put women at risk in their own homes. Amnesty International. Retrieved from http://blog.amnestyusa.org/africa/small-arms-put-women-at-risk-in-their-own-homes/

Amnesty International examines the effects that small arms and violence have on women. Although the vast majority of those who make, sell, buy, own and use guns are men, large numbers of women and girls are affected directly and indirectly by armed violence in their homes, in their communities and during and after armed conflict.

Ganeshpanchan, Z. (2012). Domestic and gender based violence among refugees and internally displaced women. Humiliation Studies. Retrieved from http://humiliationstudies.org/documents/GaneshpanchanDomesticViolenceIDPS.pdf

The author argues that forced displacement can be cited as the clearest violation of human, economic, political and social rights of a person or a group of people. Even though displacement is often viewed as a temporary measure for an example in countries such as Sri Lanka, Burundi and Congo it has been a long process lasting for many years. Displacement, inexplicably disadvantage women. It reduces access to resources such as food, water shelter and money, which limit women’s capacity to carry out their domestic responsibilities. Displacement also increases the risk of physical and emotional violence subjecting women to increased humiliation. Women are faced with risks to protection and security in refugee camps and temporary settlements while they are also greatly at risk during flight leaving them vulnerable to other forms of exploitation such as sexual slavery and trafficking. Quite often than not women who are displaced by violent conflict find themselves to be further victimized and humiliated as a result of the scale of violence that is prevalent within these “temporary” settlements which become home to them for many years to come.

Helpdesk Research Report: Conflict and sexual and domestic violence against women. (2009) Retrieved from http://www.gsdrc.org/docs/open/HD589.pdf

The authors give a detailed overview of the literature on conflict and sexual and domestic violence and argue that there is limited comparative analysis and understanding about where sexual violence may be more or less prevalent and why. Much of the literature does emphasize, however, that sexual violence against women in conflict is usually reflective of preexisting patterns in society. Violence and exploitation is considered more likely in environments where such behavior has already been prevalent and where community structures have played an active role in discrimination against women. The literature emphasizes that attention must be paid to differing contexts of sexual violence in order to formulate appropriate responses to the particular needs of survivors and communities. Nonetheless, there are some common findings that can be considered across varying contexts. This includes the general principle that rape and violence against women is a good proxy indicator of rising tensions and incipient conflict – and should be used as a warning sign of armed conflict in prevention and early warning strategies. Much of the literature also emphasizes the persistence of violence and exploitation in the post‘-conflict, reconstruction phase. The legacy of war – in particular, poverty, social exclusion and the absence of livelihoods and employment; demobilization of combatants and the integration of former militia and war-time behavior into civilian societies; the prevalence of small arms and other weapons; a legacy of impunity; and shifts in gender relations during the periods of conflict and post-conflict has resulted in continued sexual violence against women in many regions of the world.

IRIN. (2004). In-depth: Our bodies – their battle ground: Gender-based violence in conflict zones. Retrieved from http://www.irinnews.org/IndepthMain.aspx?IndepthId=20&ReportId=62814

Gender experts Elizabeth Rehn and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf define and examine the causes of gender-based violence, comment upon the effects of the increased awareness of gender-based violence, and discuss the no-risk environments of the perpetrators of GBV.

Jin, X., Eagle, M., & Yoshioka, M. (2007). Early exposure to violence in the family of origin and positive attitudes towards marital violence: Chinese immigrant male batterers vs. controls. Journal of Family Violence, 22(4), 211-222.

This study examined self-reported early exposure to violence in the family of origin and positive attitudes towards marital violence as risk factors in court-referred Chinese immigrant male batterers (N=64) versus controls (N=62). Early exposure to violence was positively correlated with marital violence, but it alone did not differentiate the batterers from the controls, as both groups were widely exposed to it. While it was significantly correlated with marital violence in the batterer group, it was significantly correlated with depression in the control group. Positive attitudes towards marital violence were not only correlated with marital violence but also sufficient to differentiate the batterers from the controls. It also partially mediated the effect of early exposure to violence on marital violence. These two risk factors together accounted for 21.9% of the variance in marital violence over and above sociodemographic variables and marital dissatisfaction. Research and treatment implications based on these findings were outlined.

Kaufman Kantor, G., Jasinski, J. L., & Aldarondo, E. (1994). Sociocultural status and incidence of marital violence in Hispanic families. Violence and Victims, 9(3), 207-222.

It is not clear whether traditional cultural ideology influences wife assaults in Hispanic-American families, or if culture is confounded with the stresses of poverty, unemployment, and immigration status. Our 1992 study of 1,970 families, including a national over sample of Hispanic families, examines the incidence of marital violence in the three major Hispanic-American subgroups and in Anglo-American families, and considers how sociocultural status and attitudes towards violence affect wife assaults differentially. The findings show that Hispanic Americans, as a whole, do not differ significantly from Anglo Americans in their odds of wife assaults when norms regarding violence approval, age, and economic stressors are held constant At the same time, considerable heterogeneity was apparent among ethnic subgroups on a number of measures. We also found that being born in the United States increases the risk of wife assaults by Mexican- and Puerto Rican-American husbands. However, the presence of norms sanctioning wife assaults within any group, regardless of socioeconomic status, is a risk factor for wife abuse.

Rees, S. & Pease, B. (2006). Refugee settlement, safety and well being: Exploring domestic and family violence in refugee communities. Immigrant Women’s Domestic Violence Services.

This study was designed to examine the significance and inter-relatedness of cultural, psychosocial and economic factors in the safety and well being of refugee families experiencing domestic and family violence and to produce knowledge that could inform the development of effective settlement supports for refugee families. An action research methodology, utilizing story-board group work to elicit pictorial and written data and individual interviews conducted by culturally competent research assistants, was developed. Participants from Ethiopia, South and North Sudan, Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia and communities from Iraq were recruited by expert sampling and data was analyzed through the lens of human rights and intersectional feminism.

Refugee Women’s Alliance. (2012), Services in 11 languages. Retrieved from rewa.org

ReWA is a non-profit, multi-ethnic organization that promotes inclusion, independence, personal leadership, and strong communities by providing refugee and immigrant women and their families with culturally and linguistically appropriate services. ReWA advocates for social justice, public policy changes, and equal access to services while respecting cultural values and the right to self-determination.

Runner, M., Yoshihama, M. & Novick, S. (2009). Intimate partner violence in immigrant and refugee communities: Challenges, promising practices and recommendations. Family Violence Prevention Fund. Retrieved from http://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/userfiles/file/ImmigrantWomen/IPV_Report_March_2009.pdf

This document describes intimate partner violence (IPV) in immigrant and refugee communities in the United States. IPV is a widespread, costly, and complex social problem nationwide, with serious health and safety implications. When IPV occurs in immigrant and refugee communities, additional challenges and complexities make it especially difficult to address. This paper examines the issue from a variety of standpoints, including the legal rights and practical challenges facing immigrant and refugee victims of violence, the ways systems are responding, and the promising practices that offer hope for these women, many of whom would otherwise remain in grave and persistent peril.

Senturia, K., Sullivan, M., Ciske, S. & Shiu-Thornton, S. (2000). Cultural issues affecting domestic violence service utilization in ethnic and hard to reach populations. US Department of Justice. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/185357.pdf

This project gathered information on access to and satisfaction with domestic violence DV services for certain women who are experiencing DV in Seattle (King County), Washington, and the cultural experience of DV for specific ethnic groups and the lesbian/bisexual/trans’ (LBT) community in Seattle. Qualitative data were collected through focus groups and one-on-one interviews with women either currently or formerly in DV situations from the following communities: African American, Native American Amharic-speaking (Ethiopian), Cambodian, Filipina, Latina, LBT community, Russian-speaking (former Soviet bloc nationals), and Vietnamese. This report describes the project, the process for developing and maintaining the research partnership, methods, findings, and recommendations as well as some of the strengths and challenges of the model followed. It also addresses lessons learned about conducting culturally appropriate research on DV.

Sexual Violence Research Initiative. (2006). Collection of resources. Retrieved from svri.org

The SVRI aims to promote research on sexual violence and generate empirical data that ensures sexual violence is recognized as a priority public health problem. The SVRI does this by building an experienced and committed network of researchers, policy makers, activists and donors to ensure that the many aspects of sexual violence are addressed from the perspective of different disciplines and cultures. The SVRI objectives are to increase awareness of sexual violence as a priority public health problem through evidence based communication and information, strengthen the support and funding base for research on sexual violence, build capacity in sexual violence research, and improve knowledge of sexual violence internationally to influence policy and service delivery.

Snajdr, E. (2008). Gender, power, and the performance of justice: Muslim women’s responses to domestic violence in Kazakhstan. American Ethnologist, 32(2), 294-311.

The grassroots assistance that Muslim women activists provide to victims of domestic abuse in Kazakhstan differs significantly from approaches commonly used by service providers in the United States. Yet the activists’ informal remedies, which are shaped by discourses of religion and ethnicity and which have attracted women who seek something other than safety or formal justice, are implicitly regulated by cultural politics. By examining particular cases, I show how activists prescribe gender ideologies that guide victims’ choices while supporting their own group’s broader political goals. These findings may help in understanding the dynamics of women’s political agency outside the state.

UNICEF (2007). The Paris principles: Principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups. UNICEF. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/emerg/files/ParisPrinciples310107English.pdf

Based on international law and standards and on the original Cape Town Principles this document incorporates knowledge and lessons learned and in particular emphasizes the informal ways in which boys and girls both become associated with and leave armed forces or armed groups. Taking a child rights-based approach to the problem of children associated with armed forces or armed groups, the Principles underscore the humanitarian imperative to seek the unconditional release of children from armed forces or armed groups at all times, even in the midst of conflict and for the duration of the conflict.    

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. (2012). Retrieved from refugees.org

To protect the rights and address the needs of persons in forced or voluntary migration worldwide by advancing fair and humane public policy, facilitating and providing direct professional services, and promoting the full participation of migrants in community life.

Vlachova, M. & Biason, L. (2005). Women in an insecure world: Violence against women: Facts, figures and analysis. Geneva: Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces.

This book is the result of work done at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), an international foundation with some 46 Member States promoting the reform and good governance of the security sector. Women in an Insecure World is a comprehensive study on violence against women – in daily life, during war and conflict, and in post-conflict situations – that maps the pervasiveness of violence against women, analyses strategies to prevent and punish that violence, and highlights the key role that women play in initiatives to counter violence.

Williamson, K. J., Coonrod, D. V., Bay, R. C., Brady, M. J., Partap, A., & Wolf, W. L. ( 2004). Screening for domestic violence: Practice, patterns, knowledge, and attitudes of physicians in Arizona. Southern Medical Journal, 97(11), 1049-1054.

Victims of domestic violence presenting for health care are frequently referred to medical specialists, but little is known about domestic violence screening among specialists. The aim of this study was to evaluate attitudes and behaviors concerning domestic violence of all physicians in Arizona. Differences in attitudes and behaviors regarding domestic violence screening were noted among specialty groups. Customizing physician training based on these findings may be beneficial.

World Health Organization. (2012). Understanding and addressing violence against women. World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/violence/vaw_series/en/index.html

This information sheet is a brief introduction to the evidence on violence against women. It is the first in a series developed by the WHO and the Pan American Health Organization that summarizes what is known about the prevalence, patterns, consequences, risk factors and strategies to address violence against women. This series is for program managers, practitioners, researchers, policy-makers and others working in a wide range of sectors and in every country. Some information sheets address specific forms of violence against women, while others address related health and social issues.

Yick, A. G. (2000). Predictors of physical spousal/intimate violence in Chinese American families. Journal of Family Violence, 15, 249-267.

A total of 262 Chinese Americans (133 males and 129 females) were randomly selected from the Los Angeles County telephone directory using Chinese surnames as the identifying marker. A structured telephone interview was administered measuring respondents’ gender role beliefs, acculturation, sociodemographic factors, and their victimization experiences with physical aggression by a spouse or intimate partner. Contrary to the feminist literature on domestic violence, gender role beliefs was not related to physical intimate violence. Acculturation, however, significantly predicted severe physical violence experienced during respondents’ lifetime. Whether respondents were employed also predicted lifetime minor forms physical violence by a spouse/ intimate partner. Findings are discussed in a cultural context, and social work practice and research implications are also highlighted.

Yoshioka, M. R. & Dang, Q. (2000). Asian family violence report: A study of the Chinese, Cambodian, Korean, South Asian and Vietnamese communities in Massachusetts. Asian Task Force against Domestic Violence, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.atask.org/site/images/pdf/asianfamilyviolencereport.pdf

The purpose of this report is twofold: (1) to educate service providers and policy makers about the complexity of family violence within the Asian communities; and (2) to help members of Asian communities start a dialogue about family violence. A focus of this report is on identifying and understanding family violence attitudes in the Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, South Asian, and Vietnamese communities. In addition to beliefs about wife abuse, the experience of corporal punishment, witnessing family violence as a child, and beliefs concerning help seeking for battered women were examined. In this report, we present the findings from a community survey of Asian men and women about their perceptions of family violence and the extent to which they hold attitudes that support it. The survey findings are supplemented where possible by other Asian family violence research in the Massachusetts area.

SPIRITUAL

Bowland, S., Edmond, T., & Fallot, R. D. (2012). Evaluation of a spiritually focused intervention  with older trauma survivors. Social Work, 57 (1), 73-82.

This study evaluated the effectiveness of an 11-session, spiritually focused group intervention with older women survivors (age 55 and older) of interpersonal trauma (child abuse, sexual assault, or domestic violence) in reducing trauma-related depressive symptoms, post traumatic stress, and anxiety. Forty-three community-dwelling women survivors of interpersonal trauma were randomized into treatment (n=21) or control (n=22) groups. Participants in group psychotherapy discussed spiritual struggles related to abuse, and developed spiritual coping resources. The treatment group had significantly lower depressive symptoms, anxiety, and physical symptoms at post test compared with the control group. In a separate analysis, post traumatic stress symptoms also dropped significantly in the treatment group. Gains were maintained at three-month follow-up. This study provides initial support for the effectiveness of spiritually focused group intervention for older survivors of interpersonal trauma from a Christian background.

Congolese Annotated Bibliography

PSYCHOLOGICAL

Bartels, S., Scott, J., Leaning, J., Mukwege, D., Lipton, R. & VanRooyen, M. (2010). Surviving sexual violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 11(4), 37-49. Retrieved from http://www.bridgew.edu/soas/jiws/May10/SurvivingSexualViolence.pdf

Since 1996 a deadly conflict has been ongoing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Within this conflict, sexual violence has been inflicted upon women as a strategic weapon of war. Given the challenges of working in this setting, this sexual violence epidemic has not been well studied. The current work is a retrospective chart review of women presenting to Panzi Hospital in 2006 requesting post-sexual violence care.

The goals were to describe the demographics of sexual violence survivors and to define the physical and psychosocial consequences of sexual violence in Eastern DRC. A total of 1021 patient medical records were reviewed. The mean age was 36 years with an age range of 3.5 years to 80 years. Approximately 90% of sexual violence survivors were either illiterate or had attended only primary school. There were significant delays between the incidents of sexual violence and presentation to Panzi hospital (mean = 16 months, median = 11 months). Physical consequences reported following sexual violence included pelvic pain (22% of women), lumbar pain (11%), abdominal pain (7%) and pregnancy (6%). Thirty six percent of women reported being concerned about their health and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) plus HIV/AIDS were the most commonly singled out health concerns. Six percent of women reported that their husbands had abandoned them after the rape and abandonment was more common after gang rape or if the sexual violence resulted in pregnancy.

Treatment programs for survivors of sexual violence must specifically address the economic hardships faced by victims must meet their time-sensitive medical needs and must provide them with psychological care.

 

Kelly, J.T., Betancourt, T.S., Mukwege, D., Lipton, R., & VanRooyen, M.J. (2011). Experiences of female survivors of sexual violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo: A mixed-methods study. Conflict and Health,5(25). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22047181

Using a mixed-methods approach, the authors surveyed a non-random sample of 255 women attending a referral hospital and two local non-governmental organizations to characterize their experiences of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). The authors then conducted focus groups of 48 women survivors of SGBV to elaborate on survey findings. Quantitative and qualitative data underwent thematic and statistical analysis respectively.

Of the women surveyed, 193 (75.7%) experienced rape. Twenty-nine percent of raped women were rejected by their families and 6% by their communities. Thirteen percent of women had a child from rape. Widowhood, husband abandonment, gang rape, and having a child from rape were significant risk factors for social rejection. Mixed methods findings show rape survivors were seen as “contaminated” with HIV, contributing to their isolation and over 95% could not access prophylactic care in time. Receiving support from their husbands after rape was protective against survivors’ feelings of shame and social isolation.

Rape results not only in physical and psychological trauma, but can destroy family and community structures. Women face significant obstacles in seeking services after rape. Interventions offering long-term solutions for hyper-vulnerable women are vital, but lacking; reintegration programs on SGBV for women, men, and communities are also needed.

 

Kinyanda, E., Musisi, S., Biryabarema, C., Ezati, I., Oboke, H., Ojiambo-Ochieng, R., Were-Oguttu, J., Levin, J., Grosskurth, H., & Walugembe, J. (2010). War related sexual violence and its medical and psychological consequences as seen in Kitgum, Northern Uganda: A cross-sectional study. International Health and Human Rights, 10(28). Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1472-698X-10-28.pdf

The authors argue that in addition to calling for a stop to the mass sexual abuse occurring in the Great Lakes region, there is a need to systematically study the reproductive, surgical and psychological effects of war related sexual violence in the African sociocultural setting.

This paper examines the specific long term health consequences of war related sexual violence among rural women living in two internally displace camps in Kitgum district in war affected Northern Uganda who accessed the services of an Isis-Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) medical intervention  The study employed a purposive cross-sectional study design where 813 respondents were subjected to a structured interview as part of a screening procedure for an emergency medical intervention to identify respondents who required psychological, gynecological and surgical treatment.

The factors that were significantly associated with war related sexual violence were the age group of less than or equal to 44 years, being Catholic, having suffered other war related physical trauma, and having ‘at least one gynecological complaint’. The specific gynecological complaints significantly associated with war related sexual violence were infertility, chronic lower abdominal pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and sexual dysfunction. In a multivariate analysis the age group of less than or equal to 44 years, being Catholic and having ‘at least one gynecological complaint’ remained significantly associated with war related sexual violence. The results from this study demonstrate that war related sexual violence is independently associated with the later development of specific gynecological complaints.

 

Rousseau, C., Rufagari, M., Bagilishya, D., & Measham, T. (2004). Remaking family life: Strategies for re-establishing continuity among Congolese refugees during the family reunification process. Social Science and Medicine, 59(5), 1095-1108.

The restrictive immigration and refugee policies of many Western countries force most refugee families to remain separated for long periods. Although there is much discussion among professionals in the community and the clinical milieu about the problems families encounter after reunification, the strategies employed by refugees to restore family life have not been paid much attention.

This longitudinal study documents the pre- and post-reunification experiences of 12 refugee families from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Montreal. Our results suggest that family separation can be understood as an ambiguous loss, in that the temporary absence of other family members cannot be fully acknowledged because of the perpetual uncertainty and permanent risk to them. Memory work, in the form of shared family memories, attenuates the pain of the absence. Once reunited, family members must re-establish continuity in spite of the many denied rifts between them. The capacity to recall a personal, familial or collective history of previous separation and loss appears to be protective, as if the memory of life’s discontinuities provides an opportunity to recreate a partial sense of continuity out of repeating experiences of chaos.

 

MEDICAL

Bartels, S. A., Scotts, J. A., Mukwege, D., Lipton, R. I., VanRooyen, M. J., & Leaning, J. (2010). Patterns of sexual violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo: Reports from survivors presenting in Panzi Hospital in 2006. Conflict and Health, 4(9). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2883538/

Despite the signing of international peace agreements, a deadly war continues in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and sexual violence is a prominent modus operandi of many military groups operating in the region. The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study of women who presented to Panzi Hospital in 2006 requesting post-sexual violence care. Data was extracted and analyzed to describe the patterns of sexual violence. A total of 1,021 medical records were reviewed. Among sexual violence survivors presenting to Panzi Hospital in 2006, the majority of attacks occurred in women’s own homes, often at night. This represents a pattern of violence that differs from other conflict settings and has important implications regarding protection strategies. Sexual violence in South Kivu was also marked with a predominance of gang rape, thus increasing the risk of serious injury as well as the likelihood of an individual woman contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Sexual slavery was noted to be more common among young, single women and was found to have a high rate of resultant pregnancy.

 

Duroch, F., McRae, M., & Grais, R.F. (2011). Description and consequences of sexual violence in Ituri province, Democratic Republic of Congo. BMC International Health and Human Rights, 11(5). Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-698X/11/5

The war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has been the subject of numerous studies related to the problem of sexual violence. Historically, such violence is known to be part of strategic war plans to conquer and destroy communities, but it is now unfortunately prevalent in times of relative calm.

We describe the characteristics and consequences of sexual violence in Ituri province of Democratic Republic of Congo through the retrospective analysis of 2,565 patients who received medical care in the Médecins Sans Frontières sexual violence clinic in the capital of Ituri province, Bunia, between September 2005 and December 2006. Using a standardized questionnaire, we report patients’ demographics, number and status of aggressor(s), forced detention and violent threats among other variables for all patients presenting for medical consultation after a sexually violent event during this period.

The characteristics of sexually violent acts in Ituri province during this period cannot be simply explained as a ‘weapon of war’ as described in the literature, meaning the use of sexual violence within a military strategy where it is employed under the orders of a commander to harm a particular community. Whilst the majority of aggressions were by armed men there was an important proportion in which civilian perpetrators were implicated. This type of violence has become part of the general characteristics of violence in this war-torn population. Sometimes, as a means for some military factions to acquire remuneration with impunity and for some civilians, a means to counteract confronting, changing social norms occurring during chronic conflict.

 

Guy, K. M. (2009). Child soldiers as zones of violence in The Democratic Republic of Congo: Three cases of medico-legal evidence of torture. Torture, 19(2), 137-144. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19920331

This article sets medico legal light on torture of three former child soldiers by comparing torture methods, consequences of torture and medical observations. It is focused on these child soldiers as representatives of the many abuses of children as soldiers in armed groups. The three persons were child soldiers during 12 years in The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as members of three different armed groups. They were exposed to armed conflict events, experienced torture, and participated in atrocities, sexual abuse and traditional rituals during their role in armed conflict. They were psychologically distressed with unhealthy physical and mental states. The principles for working with child soldiers are described. The model addresses basic items: The confluence of the dimensions of the items will determine the specifics of medico legal evidence of torture in child soldiers, taking into consideration inputs that are required at the macro, community and individual levels. A primary goal is to prevent violence from occurring in child soldiers. Thus, much more deliberate effort is made to address the underlying causes of recruitment of children in armed groups in DRC and to invest more resources in conflict resolution before there is an outbreak of violence. Peace education tends to be introduced too late and does little to alleviate the use of children in armed conflict in DRC.

 

Hanlon, H. (2008). Implications for healthcare practice and improved policies for victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 10(2), 64-72. Retrieved from http://www.bridgew.edu/soas/jiws/nov08/RapeCongo.pdf

As violent conflict ravages the Democratic Republic of Congo, thousands of women and girls are victims of sexual violence. Unfortunately, there are few services available to this population. While the exact number of victims is uncertain, the available data indicate the large scale of women and girls affected by sexual violence, and the urgent need for aid, services, and better policies to improve care. This humanitarian crisis is slowly gaining Western attention, but the current demand for humanitarian action and improved policies is greatest in the following three categories which will be addressed in the body of the work below: (1) an increase in humanitarian aid, (2) medical assistance, and (3) social support.

 

Kelly, J.T., Betancourt, T.S., Mukwege, D., Lipton, R., & VanRooyen, M.J. (2011). Experiences of female survivors of sexual violence in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo: A mixed-methods study. Conflict and Health, 5(25). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22047181

Using a mixed-methods approach, the authors surveyed a non-random sample of 255 women attending a referral hospital and two local non-governmental organizations to characterize their experiences of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). The authors then conducted focus groups of 48 women survivors of SGBV to elaborate on survey findings. Quantitative and qualitative data underwent thematic and statistical analysis respectively.

Of the women surveyed, 193 (75.7%) experienced rape. Twenty-nine percent of raped women were rejected by their families and 6% by their communities. Thirteen percent of women had a child from rape. Widowhood, husband abandonment, gang rape, and having a child from rape were significant risk factors for social rejection. Mixed methods findings show rape survivors were seen as “contaminated” with HIV, contributing to their isolation and over 95% could not access prophylactic care in time. Receiving support from their husbands after rape was protective against survivors’ feelings of shame and social isolation.

Rape results not only in physical and psychological trauma, but can destroy family and community structures. Women face significant obstacles in seeking services after rape. Interventions offering long-term solutions for hyper-vulnerable women are vital, but lacking; reintegration programs on SGBV for women, men, and communities are also needed.

 

LEGAL

Amnesty International. (2011). Democratic Republic of Congo: The time for justice is now: New   strategy needed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Amnesty International. Retrieved from http://www.amnesty.org/fr/library/info/AFR62/007/2011/en

The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been beset by violence and human rights abuses for two decades. Crimes under international law – including mass rapes and killings – have been committed in almost every corner of the country and are still being committed with alarming frequency. Amnesty International believes that the DRC government should prioritize the development of a comprehensive, long-term justice strategy aimed at reforming the criminal justice system.

 

Amnesty International. (2012). Democratic Republic of Congo: “If you resist, we’ll shot you”: The Democratic Republic of the Congo and the case for an effective arms trade treaty. Amnesty International. Retrieved from http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR62/007/2012/en

In July 2012 UN Member States are to agree the final text of a comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty. The experience of arms proliferation and abuse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo should help to persuade States to establish strict rules consistent with States’ existing responsibilities under international law. This report focuses on several cases that illustrate the scale of crimes under international law committed by Congolese security forces and armed groups using a range of weaponry, munitions and other equipment.

 

Guy, K. M. (2009). Child soldiers as zones of violence in The Democratic Republic of Congo: Three cases of medico-legal evidence of torture. Torture, 19(2), 137-144. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19920331

This article sets medico legal light on torture of three former child soldiers by comparing torture methods, consequences of torture and medical observations. It is focused on these child soldiers as representatives of the many abuses of children as soldiers in armed groups. The three persons were child soldiers during 12 years in The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as members of three different armed groups. They were exposed to armed conflict events, experienced torture, and participated in atrocities, sexual abuse and traditional rituals during their role in armed conflict. They were psychologically distressed with unhealthy physical and mental states. The principles for working with child soldiers are described. The model addresses basic items: The confluence of the dimensions of the items will determine the specifics of medico legal evidence of torture in child soldiers, taking into consideration inputs that are required at the macro, community and individual levels. A primary goal is to prevent violence from occurring in child soldiers. Thus, much more deliberate effort is made to address the underlying causes of recruitment of children in armed groups in DRC and to invest more resources in conflict resolution before there is an outbreak of violence. Peace education tends to be introduced too late and does little to alleviate the use of children in armed conflict in DRC.

 

Human Rights Watch. (2010). Always on the run: The vicious cycle of displacement in eastern Congo. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/drc0910webwcover.pdf

In the 2010 report, Always on the Run: The Vicious Cycle of Displacement in Eastern Congo, Human Rights Watch performed in-depth interviews of 146 IDPs and conducted interview with 57 staff from UN agencies, national and international NGOs, donors, and local administrative authorities in Eastern Congo from April 2009 to April 2010.

After more than 15 years of war, almost two million people in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo remain displaced after fleeing or being forced from their homes and land by a myriad of armed groups. These groups subject civilians to a range of abuses, including burning and pillaging their property, rape, beatings, robbery, and forced labor.

Fearing for their lives, internally displaced people (IDPs) often first move to forests close to their fields where they try to survive for as long as possible. Ongoing violence and destitution often force them to move on. Most seek out “host families” in towns and villages, which are themselves often stretched to capacity. Even here, IDPs face economic hardship, hunger, and disease and have little or no access to health care and education. Many risk life and limb by returning to dangerous home areas to find food for their families.

Despite official statements asserting that security has improved in the region, many IDPs remain unconvinced. Most still face numerous obstacles to returning home permanently, such as a lack of security, property destruction, and land disputes.

This report focuses on the volatile provinces of North and South Kivu in eastern Congo, and documents abuses that civilians face during all phases of displacement: as they flee, in places of temporary residence, and even after returning home. It is based on interviews with 146 persons displaced from their homes, as well as government officials and humanitarian workers.

Human Rights Watch calls on Congo’s government and the United Nations peacekeeping mission to increase protection of IDPs in the region, to ensure that humanitarian programs are prioritized, and to encourage IDPs to return home only when it is safe to do so.

 

Human Rights Watch. (2010). Trail of death: LRA atrocities in Northeastern Congo. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from http://www.hrw.org/reports/2010/03/28/trail-death

This 67-page report is the first detailed documentation of the Makombo massacre and other atrocities by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Congo in 2009 and early 2010. The report, based on a Human Rights Watch fact-finding mission to the massacre area in February, documents the brutal killings during the well-planned LRA attack from December 14 to 17 in the remote Makombo area of Haute Uele district.

 

SOCIAL

Duroch, F., McRae, M., & Grais, R.F. (2011). Description and consequences of sexual violence in Ituri province, Democratic Republic of Congo. BMC International Health and Human Rights, 11(5). Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-698X/11/5

The war in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has been the subject of numerous studies related to the problem of sexual violence. Historically, such violence is known to be part of strategic war plans to conquer and destroy communities, but it is now unfortunately prevalent in times of relative calm.

We describe the characteristics and consequences of sexual violence in Ituri province of Democratic Republic of Congo through the retrospective analysis of 2,565 patients who received medical care in the Médecins Sans Frontières sexual violence clinic in the capital of Ituri province, Bunia, between September 2005 and December 2006. Using a standardized questionnaire, we report patients’ demographics, number and status of aggressor(s), forced detention and violent threats among other variables for all patients presenting for medical consultation after a sexually violent event during this period.

The characteristics of sexually violent acts in Ituri province during this period cannot be simply explained as a ‘weapon of war’ as described in the literature, meaning the use of sexual violence within a military strategy where it is employed under the orders of a commander to harm a particular community. Whilst the majority of aggressions were by armed men there was an important proportion in which civilian perpetrators were implicated. This type of violence has become part of the general characteristics of violence in this war-torn population. Sometimes, as a means for some military factions to acquire remuneration with impunity and for some civilians, a means to counteract confronting, changing social norms occurring during chronic conflict.

 

Guy, K. M. (2009). The political and cultural background for using child soldiers. Torture, 19(2), 132-136.

The author analyzes the political and cultural background of using children as soldiers.  In addition, he explains how children are physically affected by their use in war. The author also examines the sociocultural factors that contribute to former child soldiers’ ability to cope with stress and violence.

 

EDUCATION

Clark-Kazak, C. (2010). The politics of formal schooling in refugee contexts: Education, class, and decision making among Congolese in Uganda. Refugee, 27(2), 57-64. Retrieved from http://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/refuge/article/viewFile/34722/31552

Based on ethnographic research with over four hundred Congolese refugees in Kampala and Kyaka II refugee settlement, Uganda, this article interrogates the politics of education—both historically in the Democratic Republic of Congo and currently in migration contexts in Uganda. Formal education was an aspiration for all young people in the study, irrespective of current educational level. Moreover, it is a priority for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and many other organizations working with refugees. Drawing on the experiences and views of Congolese young people, this article analyzes the sociopolitical importance they accord to formal schooling. It then analyzes the degree to which these political aspects of education are manifested in daily decision-making processes in families, households, communities, and high-level politics. The author concludes with some reflections on how researchers and practitioners working in migration contexts can recognize and take into account the politicized nature of education.

Helping refugees find peace and promising futures

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Maria’s Success Story* Florida Center for Survivors of Torture, Sabine Balmir-Derenoncourt

This month the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture celebrated the graduation of one of our client’s from our program. When this Cuban born woman walked into the office she was homeless, lost, confused, alone, in conflict with her family, in need of medication and in desperate need of help. In Cuba, she and some close family members had been diagnosed with mental health disorders. Maria spent a long time in and out of psychiatric institutions. Each time she was readmitted, she was forcibly separated from her family. She stated, “The things they do to you, it’s so hard, it makes you crazy”. According to research, many counter-revolutionaries were involuntarily admitted to psychiatric institutions and forcibly ‘treated’.

Growing up, Maria stated that she was a victim of lifelong persecution.  Her family was internally displaced because of the political activities of her father, and the religious beliefs of the family, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Her father was removed from employment and sent to the country side to a forced labor camp. The client was removed from school and employment. She stated that she and her family were constant victims of acts of repudiation.

Each day staff at the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture learn valuable lessons from the survivors with whom we work. They each have a way of impacting our lives and some may mark our hearts forever. Maria worked closely with the program coordinator, Sabine Balmir-Derenoncourt. For a while, she was all Sabine could think about. According to Sabine, at first it was because of the urge that we all have to find a way to help. Eventually it was because she became an example of strength and resilience to follow. The person that walked into the office was unable to trust anything or anyone. However, Sabine built rapport with her and developed trust. She refused the assistance of other program staff and requested to work with Sabine.

Staff at the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture understand that torture survivors often feel as if they cannot trust anyone. The program coordinator adjusted her responsibilities to ensure that she could meet the case management needs of this individual. It took several days, but eventually Maria was persuaded to stay in a shelter. 24 hours after she arrived at the shelter, Maria ran away. She could not bear to stay inside the shelter. The walls around it reminded her of her past. She felt locked up all over again. After days of explaining that the walls were meant to protect her while inside and not to harm her, she accepted to return to the shelter. She promised to call Sabine if she felt the urge to “run” again. And she called. Maria called early in the morning. She called late at night. She called on the weekends and she called during the holidays. Every time she was told:  “wait just a little bit more, this shelter leads to permanent housing, just a little more so you can get your place”.

Together, Maria and Sabine would visualize ‘her’ place and what she would do there. The program coordinator often told her that she could see this survivor drinking a cup of coffee on her sofa, which made the client smile. In November of 2011, after much advocacy from the FCST staff, this client was moved to a supervised subsidized permanent housing. FCST staff celebrated! ! One year later, Maria graduated from the program emotionally, psychologically, socially, and financially stable. She is fully engaged with her church and family. She attends regular group counseling.

Maria has befriended the entire FCST staff. Her graduation was celebrated by all of us. She is missed by Sabine and all of the FCST team.

*name has been changed to protect confidentiality