Violence against women migrants and refugees: analysing causes and effective policy response

NKVTS and six international partners in Europe, the Middle East and Canada have received a grant for a three-year study (2019–2022) on ‘Violence against women migrants and refugees: analysing causes and effective policy response.’

The project is funded by the Joint Call on Gender and UN Sustainable Development Goals under Horizon 2020; the consortium is coordinated by Professor Jane Freedman at the Centre de recherches sociologiques et politiques de Paris. Professor Margunn Bjørnholt from NKVTS and the University of Bergen is principal investigator for the Norwegian part of the project.

Read more on the project website

About the project

Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is a major infringement of women’s human rights, and an obstacle to sustainable development as set out in the Sustainable Development Goals. SGBV against migrant and refugee women is widespread, but often remains invisible and under-analysed both in academic research and policy-making. This research will take an intersectional approach to understand SGBV in the context of migration, analysing the ways in which discriminations and inequalities based on gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and age, interact to make certain women more vulnerable to SGBV and less able to access support and services for survivors than others. SGBV may be exacerbated by policies aiming to restrict migration, or to increase control of borders, which can push women into adopting dangerous routes to arrive in their country of destination. Conflict and the risks of migration may also render women vulnerable to trafficking and sexual exploitation. Conditions of reception, and policies for integration in receiving countries may also lead to increased risk of SGBV for migrant and refugee women. But these women are not just “victims”, and their strategies and agency should also be explored. In sum, while we know that female migrants and refugees are particularly exposed to violence, we lack a systematic understanding of the underlying dynamics that (re)produce patterns of violence. It is this gap that the research seeks to fill in order to make policy recommendations for reducing these women’s vulnerability to SGBV and increasing their access to services.

The consortium brings together researchers with strong research experience on migration and refugees, sexual and gender-based violence, international, regional and national law and policy. Different academic disciplines – sociology, political science, anthropology, psychology, law – are also represented in the consortium and will allow a multi-disciplinary approach to the research.


  • Centre de recherches sociologiques et politiques de Paris, CNRS/University of Paris 8 – principal investigator: Jane Freedman
  • Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies – principal investigator: Margunn Bjørnholt
  • Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Law – principal investigator: Ruth Halperin-Kaddari
  • National University of Ireland, Galway – principal investigator: Niamh Reilly
  • Saint Mary’s University – principal investigator: Evangelia Tastsoglou
  • University of Vienna – principal investigator: Sieglinde Rosenberger
  • Oriental Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic – principal investigator: Gabriela Özel Volfová

NKVTS team