Gender-Based Violence (GBV) has been recognized as a significant challenge among communities forcibly displaced by armed conflict, such as those living in refugee camps. Since the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, significant progress has been made by the international community and UN member countries in responding to GBV. However, providing support only to those who positively seek help is insufficient, and there is a need to develop more effective ways to extend support to those who face such difficulties, as well as prevent future incidents of GBV from occurring.
This paper identifies help-seeking pathways in order to overcome the barriers to securing help in refugee communities. First, the paper develops a model of help-seeking based on an adapted version of the ecological model to understand help-seeking. Second, the model is appraised in relation to the data gathered from twelve focus group discussions (FGDs) with South Sudanese refugees in six refugee settlement areas in Uganda.
The paper identifies the factors underpinning GBV and help-seeking, help-seeking pathways, and barriers to help-seeking. GBV survivors often decide not to avail themselves of any help or support services, mainly due to fear of stigma resulting from socio-cultural norms and low expectations of services. The help-seeking pathway reveals that the community leaders or churches are the primary and most familiar institutions with which to seek support, rather than through support by humanitarian agencies or the host community. The conclusion contributes recommendations toward the development of a modified help-seeking model for GBV survivors and services, specifically in conflict-affected refugee conditions.
Keywords: South Sudan, Uganda, refugees, gender-based violence (GBV), help-seeking