In an interview with IRIN, Achtar Abubakr Ibrahim, a women’s refugee leader, stated that “Before, in Darfur [Sudan], both men and women used to work, but virtually no one has a job here. The men found themselves jobless; the women became dependent on the jobless men and this created frustration and anger, so the men started battering the women.”
At Djabal camp, which has about 18,000 refugees women have taken on the majority of the responsibilities for taking care of the household, on top of taking care of the children, and fetching water and firewood.
According to Achtar, “The women decided to work. They went to town to do brick-making for their children [‘s sake], but the men want to misuse [the earnings], leading to violence.”
According to a report by the US Cultural Orientation Centre, Darfuri refugees in Chad continue to depend almost entirely on humanitarian assistance for their basic needs.
Access to arable land remains generally non-existent for these refugees, and family breakdowns compound the refugees’ plight. “It is amazing how almost all people [couples] who left Darfur married, have divorced,” said Achtar.
For those exposed to gender-based violence (GBV) access to health care and other psychosocial support is a challenge.
For refugee women, many of them traumatized by having to flee, their family is so important to them that the idea of leaving their husbands, even if there was GBV, is not a realistic option.
Refugee women are more affected by violence than any other population of women in the world and are at risk of rape or other forms of sexual violence, says a Denver University study.
At Djabal refugee camp, for example, early marriage is prevalent, and one aid official stated that “Family planning is sort of a taboo subject in the region, people don’t talk about it. It is difficult because of cultural reasons and the lack of male involvement. They want many children. It is a sign of fertility.”