Violence against women migrants and refugees (GBV-MIG)

GENDER-NET Plus Joint Call in Gender and UN Sustainable Development Goals

Austrian Team: Sieglinde Rosenberger, Madita Erdmann, Leila Haj-Abdou, Beate Gassner


Consortium Members: CRESPPA Université Paris 8 France (PI), National University of Ire-land Galway, St. Mary’s University Halifax, Oriental Insitute at Czech Academy of Sciences, University of Vienna, Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies Oslo, Bar-Ilan University Tel Aviv

Project website: Coming soon

Project duration: March 2019 – December 2021

Funding institution: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF)


About the project

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a major infringement of women’s human rights, and an ob-stacle to sustainable development as set out in the SDGs. GBV against migrant and refugee women is widespread, but often remains invisible and under-analysed both in academic re-search and policy-making. This research attempts to understand GBV in the context of migra-tion, analysing the ways in which discriminations and inequalities based on gender, race, na-tionality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and age, interact to make certain wom-en more vulnerable to GBV and less able to access support and services for survivors than others. GBV may be exacerbated by policies aiming to restrict migration, or to increase control of borders, which can push women into adopting dangerous routes to arrive in their country of destination. Conflict and the risks of migration may also render women vulnerable to traffick-ing and sexual exploitation. Conditions of reception, and policies for integration in receiving countries may also lead to increased risk of GBV for migrant and refugee women. But these women are not just “victims”, and their strategies and agency are to be explored.

As the Austrian team, we look at narratives and the discourse around GBV against women migrants and refugees, the occurrence of GBV at borders by factoring in impacts of the so-called “Balkan Route”, reception centers, women’s shelters etc. We collect relevant infor-mation through interviews with key informants from international, national and local actors. Research also includes the analysis of international and national policy documents and action plans. What is crucial to the project is the involvement of participants who have witnessed or are exposed to GBV. The involvement of different actors on different (non-)governmental and societal level allows us to identify and analyze the gendered and racialized dynamics and narratives. In sum, while we know that female migrants and refugees are particularly exposed to violence we lack a systematic understanding of the underlying dynamics that (re)produce patterns of violence.


Project Related Activities

  • Workshop at Austrian Institute for International Affairs (oiip) and CARE Austria on the EU-Action plan and 20th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Res. 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
    • On 12 November 2019, Madita Erdmann joined a group of researchers, policy makers, civil society actors, development and aid agencies and representatives of Austrian ministries to discuss the future implementation of the UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in and outside of Austria. Amongst other points, the issue of migration, asylum and violence were discussed from various points of view. The group will meet again soon to continue the discussion on recommendations regarding the resolution’s implementation.
  • HDIM Conference at the OSCE in Warsaw: Madita Erdmann talks about Gender-based violence against refugee women
    • On 20 September 2019, Madita Erdmann addressed current challenges to overcoming gender-based violence against refugee women at a side event of the Human Dimension Implementation Meetings (HDIM), organized by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE in Warsaw. She illustrated some of the interconnections between pressing issues such as climate change, conflict-induced migration and gender-based violence and how these have become a key challenge for the OSCE region already. Emphasizing “GBV- MIG’s” bottom-up approach, she called for the importance of agency and participation of women refugees and the recognition of intersections of different forms of discrimination in the process of countering gender-based violence. She concluded that this would also imply to rethink common concepts of security in the context of migration and gender-based violence.
  • Presentation of the project at the 18. kritnet „Netzwerk Kritische Migrations- und Grenzre-gimeforschung“ (network critical migration- and border regime studies).  Conference on Mi-gration and Violence, 16 May – 19 May 2019 in Leipzig, Germany; Madita Erdmann
  • GENDER-Net Team Meeting: Conceptual Frameworks and Methodology, 8 May- 9 May 2019 in Paris, France; Sieglinde Rosenberger, Madita Erdmann