Home Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict and Post-Conflict Settings

Sexual violence is a frequent occurrence during armed conflict and can occur against both men and women. Although the Inter-Agency Standing Committee of the United Nations, the humanitarian response coordinating body, makes considerations for male survivors in discussions on how to support sexual violence survivors, the majority of existing support programs for survivors of sexual violence are targeted toward women and children. Men’s reluctance to talk about their experiences in conflict and post-conflict settings has contributed to the subject being a difficult area of inquiry.

This article describes the research design and strategies of qualitative research with South Sudanese male refugees who were survivors of sexual violence and who have since resettled in two communities in Uganda since the onset of the 2013 South Sudan conflict. Based on the learnings during the fieldwork in this complex research setting and by drawing on best practices in qualitative research, this article proposes guidelines to assist researchers who conduct qualitative research with vulnerable populations (across multiple disciplines) on sensitive topics such as sexual violence.The guidelines include five key steps:

  1. Spending time in the community before participant recruitment and data collection
  2. Fostering a trust relationship with stakeholders
  3. Using appropriate gatekeepers
  4. Making participants feel at ease throughout the research
  5. Using the snowballing sampling technique

The key steps are interdependent and can be adapted to suit the research context, while these guidelines can be useful across multiple disciplines and subject areas.

The article Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict and Post-Conflict Settings: A Qualitative Research Methodology was first published in the American Journal of Men’s Health on March 16, 2022.

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  • Tosin Olaluwoye, Centre for Humanitarian Leadership
  • Elizabeth Hoban, Deakin University
  • Phil Connors, Deakin University
  • Joanne Williams, Swinburne University of Technology
Photo: South Sudanese refugees arrive in Bidibidi, Uganda, to be registered, photo by Denis Onyodi, Uganda Red Cross Climate Centre

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