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


Consortium Members: CRESPPA Université Paris 8 France (PI), National University of Ireland 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:

Project duration: March 2019 – December 2021

Funding institution: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF), Horizon 2020

Advisory board: Evelyn Probst (LEFÖ), Rosa Logar (Domestic Abuse Intervention Centre Vienna), Mary Kreutzer (Caritas Wien), Katharina Beclin (Lawyer and Professor at University of Vienna), Sabine Mandl (Researcher at Ludwig-Boltzman-Institut for Human Rights), Birgit Wolf (Lecturer University of Vienna, Researcher)


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. In sum, while we know that women refugees are particularly exposed to violence, we lack a systematic understanding of the underlying dynamics that (re)produce patterns of violence.

At the University of Vienna, we are concerned with three strands of research. First, we look at the public discourse around GBV against women refugees by conducting a frame and policy analysis. We mirror respective insights with interviews conducted with practitioners from national and local actors, such as NGOs and local communities. Central to the project is the involvement of participants who have witnessed or have been exposed to different forms of GBV, be it structural or physical violence. Finally, we engage with conceptual and methodological challenges and concerns which arise when conducting research on refugees and GBV, in general. 


Project Related Activities

  • Constitution of Advisory Board
    • On 20 January 2020, we invited a group of experts on inter alia violence prevention, human trafficking, law and migration to form the Austrian project’s advisory board. During a three-hour discussion, initial feedback and advice on the research design and related pressing issues was given. The board will provide the team with valuable, in part practice-oriented, advice on the research progress and is scheduled to gather for a second meeting in mid-next 2021.  
  • 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 Grenzregimeforschung“ (network critical migration- and border regime studies).  Conference on Migration 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


Project-related literature and publications

  • Erdmann, Madita; Gassner, Beate; Rosenberger, Sieglinde (2020): Country Report Austria. A Status Quo.
  • Contribution to oiip und CARE Austria Policy Paper regarding the EU-Action Plan on the Women, Peace and Security Resolution (UNSCR 1325 ff.).