Sexual and gender-based violence in the European asylum and reception sector: a perpetuum mobile?


Background: Refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants are at risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and subsequent ill-health in Europe; yet, European minimum reception standards do not address SGBV. Hence, this paper explores the nature of SGBV occurring in this sector and discusses determinants for ‘Desirable Prevention’. Methods: Applying community-based participatory research, we conducted an SGBV knowledge, attitude and practice survey with residents and professionals in eight European countries. We conducted logistic regression using mixed models to analyse the data in R. Results: Of the 562 respondents, 58.3% reported cases of direct (23.3%) or peer (76.6%) victimization. Our results indicate that when men were involved, it most likely concerned sexual perpetration (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 4.09, confidence interval [CI]: 1.2; 13.89) and physical victimization (aOR: 2.57, CI: 1.65; 4), compared with females, who then rather perpetrated emotional violence (aOR: 1.85, CI: 1.08; 3.13) and underwent sexual victimization (aOR: 7.14, CI: 3.33; 16.67). Compared with others, asylum seekers appeared more likely to perpetrate physical (aOR 7.14, CI: 4; 12.5) and endure socio-economic violence (aOR: 10, CI: 1.37; 100), whereas professionals rather bore emotional (aOR: 2.01, CI: 0.98; 4.12) and perpetrated socio-economic violence (aOR: 25.91, CI: 13.41; 50.07). When group perpetration (aOR: 2.13, CI: 1.27; 3.58) or victimization (aOR: 1.84, CI: 1.1; 3.06) occurred, it most likely concerned socio-economic violence. Conclusion: Within the European asylum reception sector, residents and professionals of both sexes experience SGBV victimization and perpetration. Given the lack of prevention policies, our indings call for urgent Desirable Prevention programmes addressing determinants socio-ecologically.

Authors & affiliation: 
Ines Keygnaert1, Sonia F. Dias2, Olivier Degomme1, Walter Deville´ 3, Patricia Kennedy4, Andra´ s Kova´ ts5, Sara De Meyer1, Nicole Vettenburg6, Kristien Roelens1, Marleen Temmerman1 1 International Centre for Reproductive Health, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium 2 Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal 3 NIVEL, Utrecht, The Netherlands 4 School of Applied Social Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland 5 Menede´k & MTA TK KI, Budapest, Hungary 6 Department of Social Welfare Studies, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium Correspondence: Ines Keygnaert, ICRH-Ghent University, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185 UZP 114, 9000 Ghent, Belgium, Tel: +32 9 332 35 64, Fax: +32 9 332 38 67, e-mail:
Published In: 
The European Journal of Public Health Advance Access published May 29, 2014
Publication date: 
Thursday, May 29, 2014