The research project that informed this brief deployed intersectional and socioecological analysis of violence against women (VAW) in forced migration and identified two aspects of religious influences on survivors’ experiences as: 1) a vulnerability intersecting with other factors, and 2) a resilience resource.
The study indicates humanitarian and forced migration policy and practice insufficiently account for internal and external religious factors intersecting with gender, race and other identity markers in VAW experience. Practitioners engage with religion selectively across a religious dis/engagement continuum: from avoiding religion, reacting to religion in instrumentalist and pragmatic ways, to actively working with religion.
The extent of faith sensitivity of humanitarian responses impacts on the effectiveness of interventions and on displaced women. Interventions overlooking survivors’ religious worldviews can undermine their coping capacities and psychosocial wellbeing by failing to draw on their religious coping mechanisms to address spiritual struggles (emerging from experiences of abuse) and to mitigate against the risk of violence intersecting with religion.
To ease the socio-economic costs of VAW, recommendations include:
- Humanitarian policy and practice to recognise the significance of religious influences on displaced women’s resilience and vulnerability and to integrate religious factors into interventions to mitigate risks and build resilience more effectively.
- Integrate religious risk and resilience factors ascross-cutting issues into age, gender and diversity policy and programmes, including gender analysis, intersectional and socioecological approaches.
- Develop faith-sensitivestrategiestoreduceintersectionalvulnerabilitiesandpreventVAWbydrawingon religious resources, for example, by engaging with informal female leaders/women’s faith organisations.
- Mental health and psychosocial support(MHPSS) practitioners to recognise and support the religious coping mechanisms of survivors.