Something is (still) missing? Feminist services for forced migrants surviving sexual and gender-based violence in Sweden, Australia, Turkey and the United Kingdom

Bradby H., Papoutsi A., Hourani J., Akyüz Tursun S., Phillimore J.

Women's Studies International Forum, vol.98, 2023 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 98
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.wsif.2023.102697
  • Journal Name: Women's Studies International Forum
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Periodicals Index Online, American History and Life, Educational research abstracts (ERA), Gender Studies Database, Historical Abstracts, Index Islamicus, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Political Science Complete, Psycinfo, Public Affairs Index, Social services abstracts, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Keywords: Australia, Feminism, Forced migration, Gender-based violence, Public health services, Sweden, Turkey, UK
  • TED University Affiliated: Yes


Aim: Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is a clear harm for individual and family health, as well as for society at large. A feminist public health should ensure that services meet women's self-identified needs, with an inclusive definition of woman-kind and an understanding of the intersectional nature of the disadvantage that forced migrant women face. Methods: Semi-structured interviews with 166 forced migrants who have suffered SGBV and 107 providers of services to forced migrants in Australia, Sweden, Turkey and the UK, were undertaken as part of wider project. After translation and transcription, thematic analysis sought all mentions of feminism, descriptions of services along feminist lines and evaluations of the feminist-nature of services. Result: Services were said to be hard to approach much of the time and did not always focus on forced migrants' assessments of their own needs. Those services that did attend to migrants' own expression of their needs were said to be helpful in the recovery process. Interviews with service providers indicated that, while feminism was regularly a personal philosophy, it less often informed service design and delivery. A tension between individual empowerment and a collective assertion of women's rights is part of the contested understanding of feminism, with an intersectional criticism of secular, individualist assumptions of a wholly rights-based approach. The co-opting of women's rights to pursue a securitization agenda indicates tensions between different versions of feminism. Conclusion: The failure to design and deliver services that facilitate forced migrants' recovery from SGBV represents an ongoing failure to understand, apply and test the insights of decades of feminism.