Prevalence, patterns, and determinants of gender-based violence among women and girls in IDP camps, Mogadishu-Somalia

Hassan Abdullahi Dahie, Mohamed Maalim Dakane, and Bashir Said Hassan

Journal of Migration and Health, Volume 8 (2023), Article number 100193


This paper estimates the prevalence and determinants of gender-based violence (GBV) among women in IDP camps in Somalia. Somalia has one of the highest rates of GBV worldwide, with GBV more prevalent among women and girls in IDP camps.

The analysis is based on data collected using a structured interview questionnaire in IDP camps in Deynile District in August and September 2022. A total of 384 women aged 18 years and above who had been living in one of five selected IDP camps for at least 6 months were included in the study. Participants were asked questions about their socio-demographic characteristics and their experience of GBV. GBV was classified into six categories: physical assault, psychological abuse, forced marriage, attempted rape, rape, and denial of resources. Participants who experienced GBV were asked additional questions about the type, frequency, and perpetrator of the GBV, the survivor’s response, and the repercussions for the perpetrator.

Main findings:

  • Gender-based violence was quite common in the IDP camps in Mogadishu’s Deynile area. Nearly 19 percent of women in the sample had experienced gender-based violence in the previous 12 months.
  • Physical abuse was the most common type of GBV. Forty-four percent of GBV incidents were physical assaults, followed by psychological abuse (25 percent), forced marriage (19 percent), attempted rape (7 percent), rape (4 percent), and denial of resources (2 percent). Forty-four percent of victims experienced multiple assaults, leading to various medical and social issues including physical injuries, psychological trauma, infectious diseases, reproductive problems, and socio-cultural problems.
  • GBV was primarily committed by intimate partners, parents, and other family members. More than half (58 percent) of incidents were committed by intimate partners or relatives. Most incidents occurred during the day, at the victim’s home, and when the victims were alone.
  • Most women do not report incidents of GBV. Only 4 percent of victims had reported incidents of GBV to security institutions. Victims cited several reasons for not reporting incidents of GBV including lack of trust in public institutions, stigma, poverty, lack of education, lack of livelihood opportunities, lack of access to justice institutions, fear of exposure to further violence, and an inadequate legal framework.
  • Younger women were more likely to experience GBV. Women younger than 20 years of age were 4.8 times more likely to experience GBV than older women.
  • An extended family structure and larger household size were risk factors for SGBV. The odds of suffering from gender-based violence were 7.9 times higher among women who lived in joint families with respect to those living in nuclear families. The odds of encountering gender-based violence were almost two times higher among women whose household consisted of more than five individuals compared to those who were from families of less than or equal to five members.
  • Substance abuse was a risk factor for GBV. Women who used substances were more than three times more likely to experience GBV compared to non-users.
  • Employment increased the risk of GBV. Employed women were 1.6 times more likely to experience GBV compared to unemployed women.
  • Proximity to a police station and camp security personnel were protective factors. Women living in IDP camps without security were nearly twice as likely to experience GBV. Women living 2 km or more away from the nearest police station were 2.7 times more likely to experience GBV compared to those who lived less than 2 km away.

The authors conclude that there is a high prevalence of GBV in IDP camps in Mogadishu’s Deynile area. The most common form of GBV was physical violence mainly perpetuated by intimate partners. The study identified several socio-cultural factors associated with GBV, including family structure, household size, age, employment, substance abuse, distance to the nearest police station, and camp security. The authors recommend improving some of the modifiable factors that were strongly associated with gender-based violence in the IDP camps.