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Child protection and sexual exploitation in refugee camps

Three Stones’ Senior Education, Trafficking and Child Protection Expert, Dr. Timothy Williams, is the lead author of a just-published study on child protection and sexual exploitation in Rwanda’s refugee camps.

Published in the journal, Child Abuse and Neglect, the paper is titled "It isn't that we're prostitutes": Child protection and sexual exploitation of adolescent girls within and beyond refugee camps in Rwanda.

The paper draws on data from a baseline study from a collaboration with Plan International Rwanda, who contracted Three Stones to undertake this study in advance of its Girls Take the Lead project, a program focused on empowering female adolescents in two refugee camps in Rwanda.

Findings from this qualitative study centered upon intersectionality. Camps designed for security and containment also introduced new forms of vulnerability and threats. Economic stressors threatened the viability of families. Girls had material needs but few options to meet those needs within the camps. Their families expected them to do domestic work at home. Participants reported that the convergence of material deprivation, lack of economic opportunity, and vulnerability led to transactional sex and exploitation within and around the camps. The study concludes that vulnerabilities and threats associated with gender and generation must be examined concurrently with the conditions associated with being a refugee in a setting of protracted displacement.

Dr. Williams’ co-authors include Dr. Vidur Chopra, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Education and expert in refugee education, and Sharon Chikanya, who led the coordination of the Girls Take the Lead project. This joint effort of programming and technical expertise illustrates the way Three Stones works with civil society organizations to advance evidence-based programming and advocacy.

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