A social ecological approach to understanding service utilization barriers among male survivors of sexual violence in three refugee settings: a qualitative exploratory study



Chynoweth SK, Buscher D, Martin S, Zwi AB.


Confl Health. 2020 Jul 8;14:43. doi: 10.1186/s13031-020-00288-8. 2020.


BACKGROUND: Post-sexual violence service utilization is often poor in humanitarian settings. Little is known about the service uptake barriers facing male survivors specifically. METHODS: To gain insights into this knowledge gap, we undertook a qualitative exploratory study to better understand the barriers to service utilization among male survivors in three refugee-hosting countries. The study sites and populations included refugees who had travelled the central Mediterranean migration route through Libya living in Rome and Sicily, Italy; Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh; and refugees from eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, and South Sudan residing in urban areas of Kenya. Methods included document review, 55 semi-structured focus group discussions with 310 refugees, semi-structured key informant interviews with 148 aid workers and human rights experts, and observation of service delivery points. Data were thematically analyzed using NVivo 12. RESULTS: We identified eleven key barriers and situated them within a social ecological framework to describe impediments at the policy, community (inter-organizational), organizational, interpersonal, and individual levels. Barriers entailed: 1) restrictions to accessing legal protection, 2) legislative barriers such as the criminalization of same-sex sexual relations, 3) few designated entry points, 4) poor or nonexistent referral systems, 5) lack of community awareness-raising and engagement, 6) limited staff capacity, 7) negative provider attitudes and practices, 8) social stigma, 9) limited knowledge (at the individual level), 10) self-stigma, and 11) low formal help-seeking behaviors. CONCLUSION: The social ecological framework allowed us to better understand the multifaceted ways that the barriers facing male survivors operate and reinforce one another, and may be useful to inform efforts promoting service uptake. Additional research is warranted in other refugee settings. CI – © The Author(s) 2020.

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Link/DOI: 10.1186/s13031-020-00288-8