A desert-like area with several tents erected.

Strengthening Sexual Violence Protections for Displaced People

Safe Haven Study

In 2012, we undertook a four-country qualitative study of shelter options for refugees and internally displaced persons fleeing sexual and gender-based violence. This study was requested by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Policy Development and Evaluation Services. This study described and assessed options for physical protection from SGBV in diverse forced displacement settings. The study filled the gap between limited international guidance on shelter provision in forced displacement contexts and knowledge about what is and is not actually working on the ground. The research culminated in five reports: Colombia, Thailand, Haiti, Kenya, and our final Comparative Report. We shared our report findings with partners in each case study country and presented findings and recommendations to the heads of UNHCR and other key policymakers in Geneva. UNHCR officials committed to developing agency guidance based on our study findings, and recommendations from the study were included in the 2015 Inter-Agency Standing Committee Gender-based Violence Guidelines

Several buildings are seen from an aerial perspective, surrounded by foliage.
Ban Mai Nai Soi refugee camp on the Thailand-Burma Border. Photo by Julie Freccero.


Logo of Human Rights Center UC Berkeley School of Law
UNHCR logo

Disclosure of sexual and gender-based violence in forced displacement

Refugees and other forcibly displaced people are often survivors of SGBV; they also face barriers to disclosing their experiences of harm, which can prevent them from accessing care and protection. In 2018, we conducted exploratory research for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to help local service providers detect and respond to cases of rape, trafficking, and other sexual exploitation suffered by people who are forcibly displaced in Central America.

A mural with Central America depicted.
A mural at the Casa del Caminante J’tatic Samuel Ruiz in Palenque, Mexico. Photo by Kim Thuy Seelinger.