Scope of the Problem
Domestic violence is a leading cause of female injuries around the world. Women are often targets of domestic violence because of their unequal status in society.26 Domestic violence usually involves the infliction of bodily injury, accompanied by verbal threats and harassment, emotional and psychological abuse, or the destruction of property, and it is employed usually as a means of coercion, control, revenge, or punishment of a person with whom the abuser is or has been involved in an intimate relationship. The assailant, in fact, frequently blames his violence on the victim and on her behavior and may use the violence to assert his control. As a result, the woman victim may become isolated, cut off from family or community support, and afraid to venture from her home. She may also be made to feel that her inability to avoid abuse at the hands of her intimate partner means that she is somehow inadequate, a failure, even deserving of abuse or powerless to escape it.27
Addressing the problem of domestic violence is complex. Many women feel obliged to conceal the fact of their own abuse and to continue to live in violent relationships, because, for example, by being a married woman or having a male partner, they are perceived to have a higher status in their society; or for the sake of their children; due to religious convictions; or by reason of other emotional attachments.
While this report will not present a solution to all of the complexities surrounding the issue of domestic violence, it seeks to identify important forms of recourse and intervention strategies that unhcr and host governments should adopt when responding to domestic violence in refugee camps. Protecting the rights and responding to the needs of domestic violence victims requires a multi-pronged approach. First, all domestic violence victims are entitled to report abuse to theauthorities and to have those authorities conduct a vigorous investigation and prosecution of their complaints. At the same time, women abused by a spouse or intimate partner confront unique difficulties in bringing their attackers to justice and seeking safety for themselves and other family members. They may, for example, be financially dependent on their abuser, reluctant to have their partners jailed or their families break up, or fearful of condemnation by their families or communities should they pursue criminal charges. These and other factors often make women reluctant to bring charges in domestic violence cases or lead them to drop charges already filed. It is critical, therefore, to provide domestic violence victims with complimentary measures of support, such as mediation and counseling by community elders, family or friends. In many cases, women may look to non-litigation community-based mediation and counseling to resolve domestic violence disputes. However, although mediation and counseling may work well in some cases, in others such alternatives can leave women vulnerable to further violence with little meaningful protection. For example, Human Rights Watch documented many cases in which Burundian women refugees were subjected to further beatings by their husbands or partners, after receiving counseling from the abashingatahe in the camps. Community-based mediation mechanisms, such as the abashingatahe, do not have the power to enforce their judgements or to punish perpetrators and thus deter them from committing further acts of physical violence against women. Hence, they should not be treated as an acceptable substitute for redress through the criminal justice system.
Through its research into the problem of domestic violence in a number of countries around the world, Human Rights Watch has found that the attitudes of law enforcement officials frequently serve the interests of the abuser, not those of the woman who is his victim. Women commonly face huge obstacles in seeking legal protection from domestic violence or in getting law enforcement authorities to take action against and prosecute their batterers and in obtaining protection from further violence. Laws against rape frequently exempt marital rape from criminal sanction; police refuse to take action against men who beat their wives and, in some cases, force women to withdraw complaints, or refuse to charge men with domestic assault, and women who seek restraining or protection orders are turnedaway by judicial authorities. In many countries, 28 judges readily accept "honor" or "heat of passion" defenses by men who have
murdered their wives, accepting a woman's adultery or other action as "legitimate provocation." Police and judicial authorities also dismiss domestic violence as a "private" matter rather than a crime that demands urgent state action. Women often experience severe violence in their homes, including rape, murder, assault, and battery-crimes that are prohibited by the criminal laws of virtually all countries. Yet when committed against a woman in an intimate relationship, these attacks are more often tolerated by law enforcement authorities as the norm than prosecuted as crimes, even when there are laws that specifically penalize domestic violence. In a number of countries, 29 those who commit domestic violence are prosecuted with less vigor and receive milder punishments than perpetrators of similarly violent crimes not committed in a domestic setting.
Refugee women who are subjected to domestic violence are often reluctant to invoke the laws of the host country to address this abuse.30 They often face pressure from within their communities, and from their families and partners, not to report cases of domestic violence to the police. They may also feel intimidated and fear ostracization by their families and community, or retaliation from their abuser. They may still be emotionally attached to their abuser or be dependent on him for their and their children's welfare. At home, women victims usually turn to community mediation structures, although these may not beadequate to provide protection, especially in male dominated societies like that in Burundi. But even this option is often not possible in refugee settings, where there is typically an absence of consolidated community structures.
Domestic Violence in Tanzanian Camps
Human Rights Watch identified high levels of domestic violence in the Tanzanian refugee camps in 1998 and 1999. Through firsthand research and from information obtained from humanitarian aid organizations working with the refugees, we found that a significant proportion of women had experienced repeated physical assaults by their husbands or intimate partners while living as refugees in the camps.31 Victims had been assaulted with fists, bottles, shoes, sticks, and even machetes (pangas), and some had required hospitalization for their injuries. Many women interviewed by Human Rights Watch bore visible scars, bruises, or had broken fingers, missing teeth, or cuts on their faces and bodies. Some had suffered miscarriages or sexually transmitted diseases as a result of domestic sexual assault.32 Yet, despite the seriousness and prevalence of domestic violence, neither unhcr nor the Tanzanian host government had developed effective programs in response.33
The available statistics on the number of Burundian refugee women subjected to domestic violence are unreliable and, as our research suggests, significantly understate the problem, due to women's reluctance to report cases and to a lack of effective reporting mechanisms in the camps. Yet in the Kibondo camps, irc documented 61334 cases of domestic violence in 1998, in four camps: Kanembwa, Mkugwa, Mtendeli, and Nduta; and 76435 cases in 1999.36 unhcr community services officers documented 32137 cases of domestic violence in three camps in the Kasulu district: Nyarugusu, Mtabila, and Myovosi, between January and October 1999. 38 There were no records for the Kasulu camps for 1998 as unhcr and community services and its implementing partners had not yet established programs to address domestic violence.39 In the Ngara camps, Lukole A and B,40 unhcr community services and its implementing partner, Norwegian People's Aid, recorded forty-five cases of domestic violence between January and October 1999.41
Relationship between 1998 and 1999: Findings and Key Developments
In 1998, when Human Rights Watch researchers visited Burundian refugee camps in Tanzania, they found a high incidence of domestic violence, specifically violence against women by their husbands or intimate partners. At thattime, unhcr and the Tanzanian authorities regarded such abuses as a "private" matter and took no action to intervene or afford the victims protection. Women victims of domestic violence had come neither to expect nor even to seek help from unhcr or the Tanzanian authorities, and their abusers remained unpunished. Some Burundian women refugees told Human Rights Watch that they had learned to live with the problem of domestic violence, but others spoke compellingly of the feelings of fear and guilt that they experienced. In some cases, women said they had even come to feel responsible for violence perpetrated against them. Others expressed their dismay and devastation at being victimized twice: their lives had been disrupted due to the conflict in Burundi and then they had been subjected to another form of violence by their husbands in the camps. Some even said that they wished to return to Burundi, despite the conflict, to escape their violent husbands.42
When Human Rights Watch returned to the Tanzanian refugee camps in November 1999, there had been some marked and welcome developments. In particular, unhcr had begun to give increased attention to the problem of domestic violence in the camps.43 Since March 1999, unhcr and its implementing partners had expanded their programs in the Kasulu camps to include domestic violence awareness campaigns and the provision of counseling for victims, as well as alternative plots on which to reside. Such services had not existed in 1998 except in the three Kibondo camps, where irc had expanded its education and counseling program on sexual violence to include domestic violence.44 In 1999, unhcr expanded the education program on sexual and domestic violence initiated by irc to all the other camps.
Refugee Camp Environment
Many Burundian women refugees were victims of domestic violence long before they fled their villages and towns and arrived in Tanzania,45 but the special pressures, uncertainties, and indignities associated with their flight and the housing, security, food, and other problems which people tend to face in the camps can exacerbate already frayed domestic situations, often leading to increased violence.46 For example, the food distribution system which international relief agencies use in the camps can give rise to family disputes and, sometimes, violence. unhcr ensures that each head of household, male or female, receives the food ration on behalf of their families. Male heads of household often act irresponsibly by selling food for cash or taking the food to their girlfriend or second family, leaving their wives and children with no food. Women reported that, when they questioned such behavior, they were beaten or threatened. Although women have the option to obtain their own ration cards, they are reluctant to do so, for fear of a husband's reaction.
unhcr has made several adjustments to the food distribution systems in the camps to include more women on the food committees, and will issue ration cards in a woman's name upon her request. However, many women are unaware of this until they are already victims of domestic violence and are receiving counseling from unhcr staff or its implementing partners'staff. But even issuing ration cards in women's names does not guarantee that they can control what happens to their family's ration within their household, and some of it may be sold on by their husbands.
Not surprisingly, many refugee men feel that aspects of life in the camps challenge their traditional male role in Burundian society. In particular, male refugees complain that their role and standing in the home is effectively being usurped by unhcr. As one man put it, "unhcr now provides housing for my family, food for my kids, and clothing for my wife. What use am I any more?"47 This challenge to their traditional role as providers for their families tends to leadto anger, frustration, uncertainty, and helplessness among male refugees, and sometimes this translates into violence against women in the refugee camps.48
Other social pressures also contribute to tension between couples and violence in the camps. For example, polygamy is illegal in Burundi, a Catholic country, except in a few small Muslim enclaves. In some cases, however, Burundian men left families behind in Burundi when they fled to Tanzania, took a new wife and started a new family in the refugee camp, only for their first wife and family then to arrive from Burundi. In other cases, male refugees have taken openly a second or a third wife within the camps and started new families alongside their existing ones, and this has added to tensions. Some men we interviewed openly admitted to having taken additional wives in the camp.
Within the Tanzanian refugee camps, systems that women relied upon to help address domestic violence when they lived in Burundi-extended networks of family, neighbors, and community leaders-still exist, but in a much weaker, more compromised and less reliable form. Consequently, battered women are often left destitute with few means to seek protection or hide from their abusers, and perpetrators are often left free and unpunished-due to a lack of effective legal mechanisms and women victims' own reluctance to report their abusers to the police-and can further beat or torment their victims with virtual impunity.
Nature of the Response
The responsibility for protecting refugees lies with both the host government and unhcr, and there is a clear need for unhcr and the Tanzanian government to take much more concerted action to halt, punish, and prevent domestic violence from occurring. Currently, however, Tanzania's law enforcement mechanisms are almost non-functional, particularly with regard to investigating and prosecuting cases of domestic violence, due both to resource problems and to discriminatory attitudes among law enforcement officers and police.49 Also, among refugees themselves, there is enormous resistance to relying on outsiders to resolve domestic disputes. In general, refugees prefer community-based mechanisms to the host country's courts in resolving domestic violence, asthe former are run by other refugees and focus more on counseling and reconciliation.50
There are many community-based mediation mechanisms in the Tanzanian refugee camps, from abashingatahe to women representatives, to elderly women and church leaders. The abashingatahe are mostly male refugees, although UNHCR has ensured that a few women are also able to play this role. Male abashingatahe often hold many of the same sexist attitudes toward women as the men they judge. Furthermore, the abashingatahe are susceptible to corruption and have no enforcement powers. Sometimes, instead of providing redress, they effectively blame women victims for the abuse they have suffered, and tell them that, in the future, they should avoid improper behavior that will result in their husbands beating them.
Cases of Domestic Violence
In May and June 1998, Human Rights Watch interviewed twenty Burundian women refugees who had been beaten by their husbands while in the Mtendeli, Kanembwa, Nduta, and Mtabila camps. We spoke to twenty-five more women victims in October and November 1999. In addition, Human Rights Watch conducted dozens of group interviews with both female and male refugee leaders in each camp visited during the 1998 and 1999 missions. Women refugees told harrowing stories of repeated assaults and suffering. Some of their testimonies are recorded below. These testimonies point to various aspects of the problem-how severely some women victims are injured; the failure of police to investigate adequately or to arrest perpetrators of domestic violence; and the absence of effective community-based mechanisms to safeguard women refugees in the camps from domestic violence.
Failure of the Police to Intervene
Soplange S.51 sustained a deep cut on her forehead and bruises all over her body when her husband beat her with a stick in 1998. Thirty years old, she is married with four children. She fled to Tanzania in early 1996 with her family. Since her second month in Kanembwa camp, her husband had beaten her regularly, often more than twice a week. Then on May 30, 1998, her husband came homelate and very drunk, entered the room where she was sleeping, and started beating her. She screamed for help and was heard by the neighbors, but they did not intervene for fear of her husband. When Human Rights Watch interviewed her, she had fled from her home and was staying with her brother, also a refugee in Kanembwa camp, and was being treated for her injuries at the camp hospital. She had reported the assault to the police, but they had not arrested her husband.52
Rosalie P.'s teeth were knocked out when her husband hit her head against a tree, and her face was still bruised when Human Rights Watch interviewed her in June 1998. A twenty-seven-year-old, she had arrived in Tanzania in 1997 and married her husband in Mtendeli camp. Soon after, in January 1998, he began an extra-marital affair. He beat Rosalie P. on May 28, 1998, after she refused to prepare a meal for the other woman. Rosalie P. had reported the case to the police but they had not arrested her husband.53
Thirty-nine-year-old Gaudencia T. began experiencing domestic violence in 1997 after her husband had an affair with another woman in Mtendeli camp. She, her husband, and two children fled to Tanzania in 1996 and settled in Mtendeli camp. In May 1998, her husband went out one day and did not come back until the next morning. Gaudencia T. was afraid to ask him where he had slept for fear of angering him, but he then beat her because she did not ask him where he had been. When interviewed by Human Rights Watch, her upper lip was badly bruised and her eyes were swollen. She stated:
My husband beat me and insulted me using vulgar and obscene language about my body. He compared my body to other women's whom he had before, and this was in the presence of our children. After beating me, he forced me to have sex with him. I did not report this case to the police because in the past they have not arrested him after I reported similar incidents.54
The failure of the Tanzanian police to investigate cases was continuing when Human Rights Watch returned to the camps in 1999. Munzime P. stated that she had sustained a broken finger when her husband beat her in 1999, but thepolice did not arrest her husband when she reported the assault. Aged twenty- four, she has two children and fled Burundi in 1994, staying in Mtabila camp until January 1999, when she moved to Nduta camp. She said her husband had beaten her in September 1999:
My husband beat me severely on September 29, 1999. The problem started at night when he insulted me about my illness. I have an epileptic problem. On that day, I had an epileptic attack and I could not have sex with him. My husband started shouting at me using abusive language, calling me an ugly and useless woman. He twisted my fingers till one got dislocated. He kicked me several times on my face and stomach. I could not cry for help because he was threatening to kill me if I cried out. On the following day, I reported the case to the sungu- sungus but they did not intervene to punish my husband, because he gave them money. I also reported the case to the police, but they did not arrest him. In October 1999, my husband fled from Nduta camp, and I do not know where he is now. I wanted my husband to be arrested and punished for beating me when I was ill. Since my husband left, there is nobody to help me look after the children. When my husband left Nduta camp, he took all the food and non-food items and left me with nothing. In November 1999, the Dutch Relief Agency55 gave me some cooking pots, blankets, and plastic sheets.56
In some cases, victims of domestic violence are intimidated by their husbands into not reporting their cases to the police. Monique V. suffered severe injuries at the hands of her husband, but she did not report the case to the police because she was afraid of her husband. Monique V., age seventeen, had fled to Tanzania with her parents in 1997 and married another refugee whom she met in Mtendeli camp in January 1998. He beat her when she was pregnant, so she went back to her parents in Kanembwa camp, but they always told her to return to herhusband. She said the neighbors had witnessed her being beaten several times and had rescued her, but they regarded her with shame. She stated:
On May 1, 1998, my husband kicked me several times in the stomach. At that time, I was four months pregnant. I was hospitalized for four weeks and miscarried. I did not report the case to the police because I was afraid of my husband.57
Bezisiriya S. was threatened and intimidated by her husband to prevent her from reporting him to the police or unhcr staff for beating her. She came to Mtendeli camp in 1996 with her husband and two children and, when Human Rights Watch interviewed her in November 1999, was twenty-two years old. She said her relations with her husband had deteriorated when she complained about him selling some of the family's ration food at the local market in June 1999, leaving nothing for her and the children. Since August 1999, he had refused to have sex with her, and when he learned that Bezisiriya S. had complained to her aunt about this, he had beaten her severely. Bezisiriya S. told Human Rights Watch:
On October 15,1999, my aunt, who is also living in Mtendeli camp, came to our plot to counsel my husband about his refusal to have sex with me. My husband got very angry with me for reporting him to my aunt, and as soon as my aunt left, he beat me severely with a stick. I bled through the nose and mouth, but he continued to kick me even as I was bleeding. He denied me permission to go to hospital for treatment. He also denied me permission to leave the house or to interact with other refugee women in the camp. I am afraid that, if he finds out that I left the house today, he will kill me because he threatened to do so if ever he discovered that I had reported him to the police or the camp authorities. I have not reported the case to anybody because I am afraid of my husband.58
Radegonde L. was also threatened and intimidated by her husband, and too frightened to report his assaults on her to the police. An eighteen-year-old married woman, she fled to Tanzania with her parents in 1994 and lived with them in Kanembwa camp until she married in 1997 and moved to Mtendeli camp with her husband. She said that he beat her because she had not become pregnant since they were married. On June 1, 1998, he locked the door of their house and then beat and verbally abused her for not becoming pregnant. She was unable to escape or call for help, as he had held her mouth closed tightly with his hand. Radegonde L. stated:
My husband only stopped beating me when I was seriously injured. My nose and mouth were bleeding. He took me to the hospital, where I stayed for two weeks. I did not report the case to the police because my husband threatened to kill me if I reported him.59
Reconciliatory Counseling not Enough
Despite the counseling provided by unhcr community services officers or its implementing partners, the involvement of abashingatahe, women representatives, sungu-sungus, and others, victims of domestic violence told Human Rights Watch that such measures only had a temporary effect, and many men continued beating their wives regardless of any intervention. For example, Herapile T., a twenty-two-year-old woman living in Nduta camp, said that her husband had beaten her several times since 1998, despite the warnings and counseling he had received. She told Human Rights Watch:
After we got married in November 1998, my husband started telling me that other refugees were mocking and laughing at him about my physical appearance. He told me that I am very ugly and dark and he was thinking of finding a fair wife. Afterwards, the story changed and my husband started accusing me of having a boyfriend in the camp. Since May 1999, my husband has been beating me, even more than six times a week. He used his hands to beat me. We were counseled by several people, including sungu-sungus, women representatives, and even the blockleaders and abashingatahe, but my husband continued to beat me. In August 1999, the block leader counseled us, but my husband beat me again on the same day after we had been counseled. During the second week of October, he beat me severely after demanding that he wanted me to give birth to a baby boy. I was three months pregnant. He kicked me several times in the stomach. My neighbors took me to hospital. I was hospitalized and had a miscarriage four days later. I stayed in the hospital for two weeks receiving treatment. I reported the case to the Dutch Relief Agency, and they counseled me and assisted me with food and non-food items. I have not had any problems with my husband since we separated in November 1999. I was given my own plot by unhcr in November 1999. I did not report the case to the police because other refugees in the camp discouraged me from doing so.60
Jeanne Y. is another woman refugee whose husband had beaten her despite warnings from the abashingatahe. A thirty-year-old mother of five children, she and her family fled to Tanzania in November 1996 and settled in Mtendeli camp. While there, she had three miscarriages, and a fourth pregnancy ended with the child dying soon after delivery. She said that her husband began to beat her when she did not become pregnant again. On May 31, 1998, her husband beat her after drinking beer, causing her serious head and ear injuries which required her to spend two weeks in the camp hospital. She reported the beating to the abashingatahe, who warned her husband but took no other action. After leaving the hospital, she went back to live with her husband, even though he continued to beat her.61
Sale of Ration Food
unhcr does not have a policy that specifies who is to receive family food rations, but food ration cards, in practice, are issued to male heads of household and not to their wives. Ration cards are issued to women only when there is no male head of household or if they are single and unaccompanied.
As a result, some battered refugee women continue to live with their abusers because they fear losing access to their food rations. Others told Human Rights Watch that they feared requesting food ration cards in their own names and separate shelter because this could result in more violence by their husbands. Others who had made such requests in 1998 complained that it had taken unhcr over a month to respond while they were living in fear that their abusers would find out.
In 1999, unhcr initiated a new food distribution system that increases women's visibility in key leadership positions in the camps and secures greater female participation in the process of food distribution. However, this helps only to ensure that refugee families receive the precise rations due to them. unhcr had not tackled the more difficult task of preventing male members of the household from selling some of the food for cash or alcohol or passing it out to another woman and her family, leaving their own wives and children hungry.62 When Human Rights Watch raised this issue with unhcr field officers who are responsible for the management of food distribution, their response was that it would be difficult for unhcr to control the use of food once it reaches households.63 A field officer in Kibondo said, "We try to follow up cases in which women report that their husbands sell or mismanage the food, and we give the ration food directly to the woman in such cases. In some of the cases our strategy works while in others, the problem persists."64 For example, Beatrice F., aged twenty-two and married with two children, told Human Rights Watch that her husband began to sell half of the family's food in early 1999, and then spend the money he got in return on beer. When Beatrice F. complained, she said, he beat her severely. When interviewed by Human Rights Watch, she bore bruises on her face and neck caused, she said, by a beating from her husband the previous night. She had not reported the problem to unhcr or the camp authorities because she feared her husband. Nor had she applied for her own ration card and separate plot on which to reside, because her husband had threatened to kill her if she did. Shesaid that she was so desperate that she was even thinking of returning to Burundi to escape the beatings and threats from her husband.65
Annette G. fled to Tanzania in 1996 with her husband and three children, and was twenty-five years old when Human Rights Watch interviewed her. She was then living with her family in Kanembwa camp, though her husband had beaten her frequently since they arrived in Tanzania. He sold all the family's food given by unhcr and spent the money on beer, and beat her when she protested this. He beat her in front of the children the day before Human Rights Watch met her: she had bruises all over her body. He had been warned by refugee leaders to stop the beatings, but had ignored this, boasting that he would continue. Annette G. said that she no longer reported beatings to the police because they were uninterested on previous occasions.66
Thirty-three-year-old Virginie M. had been waiting for a ration card for over three weeks when Human Rights Watch interviewed her in June 1998. She arrived in Tanzania in 1996. Her husband, she said, beat her frequently and had threatened to slit her throat. She was then living with another woman refugee, having fled from her husband's abuse. She wanted her husband to be arrested and prosecuted, but the police at Nduta camp had refused to take action against him because, she said, a senior police officer there was one of her husband's friends. She had requested her own ration card, but not a separate living plot because she feared her husband would attack her again if he learned where she was staying.67
Status of Women and Other Social Problems
In their interviews with Human Rights Watch, Burundian women refugees indicated that all manner of petty issues could lead to their being assaulted in their homes by their husbands or partners. These issues ranged from not having a meal prepared at the right time or not having meat for a meal, to protesting against their husband's misbehavior in selling part of the family's food ration, engaging in an extramarital affair, or getting drunk. Other problems associated with life in a refugee camp, including enforced idleness, poverty, and frustration, clearly are factors which add to the pressures on families and contribute to a high occurrence of domestic violence.
Refugees complained that living in the artificial refugee camp environments tended to erode their cultural values. For example, many married Burundian male refugees effectively entered into polygamous relationships, although in Burundi itself polygamy is strictly prohibited.68 Many others had extramarital affairs. This behavior by refugee men often generated tension and violence between married couples.69 Anina D., a twenty-five-year-old mother of one child, told Human Rights Watch that her husband began to beat her in 1998 after he took a girlfriend in Nduta camp. He had then given her clothes to his girlfriend, leading Anina D. to report this to irc's community services officers. They then asked her husband to come and see them but, instead, he fled Nduta camp with his girlfriend after first beating up his wife and taking all the family's food and possessions with him, leaving her with nothing. Anina D. told Human Rights Watch:
I sustained bruises on the face and neck from the injury. He threatened that he was going to ambush and kill me, because he had found a more beautiful wife. I reported the case to the police who in turn referred me back to the refugee leaders for assistance. I wanted the police to investigate the case and arrest my husband because I am afraid he might return to kill me as he threatened on the day he fled from Nduta camp. I have been assisted by irc with counseling, and the Dutch Relief Agency gave me some non-food items.70
Epiphanie B., a forty-two-year old mother of three children, was also beaten up by her husband when a woman with whom he had previously had an extramarital relationship before their flight from Burundi also arrived in Tanzaniaand settled at Nduta camp. Epiphanie B.'s husband took their food and property and gave it to this other woman and then beat Epiphanie B. with sticks and his fists when she protested. The other woman joined him in the assault. Epiphanie B. sustained a head injury and was forced to leave home and move in with another woman refugee. She wanted her husband and his girlfriend to be punished but the local police appeared uninterested in her plight:
My husband threw me and our three children off the plot of land where we lived. He now lives on that plot with his girlfriend, and I have nowhere to stay with the children. I reported the case to the police, and they did nothing to help me. I also reported the case to unhcr and requested a plot and separate ration card. unhcr has not yet responded to my requests. I made the requests four weeks ago.71
Sara D., a nineteen-year-old with a six-month-old child, had lived in Mtendeli camp since around December 1996 and married her husband there in March 1998. But, she said, their marriage had been peaceful for only five months. Then her husband started beating her and threatening to take another wife, and the violence intensified when she became pregnant and asked him to purchase cloth for her to make maternity clothes. He beat her for that and she left him and returned to her parent's home several times. However, her husband had local clergy talk to her and convince her to return to him, which she had done because she feared what would happen to her as a single mother, in the camp. unhcr then intervened to help her recover her belongings, by holding on to her husband's ration card until he returned them. She said he beat her because she had refused to have their baby registered on his ration card and for other reasons.72
Human Rights Watch interviewed Rebecca N., a twenty-eight-year-old divorced mother of a four-year-old child, at Mtendeli camp. She said she had married a man there because she felt the need for protection, as women were being raped at the camp and when they left the camps to collect firewood. But the manshe married turned out to have a wife in Burundi, and, when his first wife arrived in Tanzania, he began to abuse verbally, threaten, and insult Rebecca N. and asked her for a divorce. Because his first wife's sister worked for one of the humanitarian organizations in the camp, they ensured that Rebecca N. was quickly given her own ration card and relocated to a different house.73
Governments and private organizations in a number of countries around the world have established special shelters and places of refuge for women who are victims of domestic violence and their children. Usually these are run by non-governmental organizations with total or partial government funding. They frequently provide a safe and private environment in which victims of domestic violence are safeguarded against further abuse and can begin to try to recover from the trauma to which they have been exposed, and they are not run for profit.74
As yet, insufficient research has been undertaken to determine the viability of establishing such shelters in refugee camps, but there is a clear need to provide some form of safe haven for victims of domestic violence, and this is recognized by unhcr and humanitarian organizations working with the Burundian refugees in Tanzania.75 There is some fear, of course, that safe shelters could become targets for attacks by disgruntled spouses or others, and would be especially vulnerable when situated within large refugee camps. Lacking such shelters, women victims of domestic violence in the Tanzanian camps said they often seek help from their network of relatives and friends, with abused women looking to other, sympathetic refugees to give them temporary shelter in their own homes and to share their small food rations with them. Since August 1999, however, the irc Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Project has provided temporary shelter at its drop-in centers in theKibondo camps and were looking into possibilities to construct permanent shelters for women victims of violence in the Mtendeli and Nduta camps.76
26 Cases of female-perpetrated domestic violence occur in different settings, including in the refugee setting, but more rarely compared to male-perpetrated domestic violence. For example, in group interviews with Burundian refugees in the Tanzanian camps, some male refugees generally complained to Human Rights Watch that they were being beaten by their wives or girlfriends. We did not, however, collect any testimonies of female -perpetrated domestic violence in the camps.
27 See "Domestic Violence," in Human Rights Watch, The Human Rights Watch Global Report on Women's Human Rights, (New York: Human Rights Watch, August 1995) pp.341-409.
28 For example, in Pakistan, Jordan, and South Africa. See Human Rights Watch reports: Crime or Custom: Violence Against Women in Pakistan, (New York: Human Rights Watch, August 1999); Violence Against Women in South Africa (New York: Human Rights Watch, November 1995); and Human Rights Watch World Report 2000 (New York: Human Rights Watch: December 1999) pp.444-446. See also, "Jordan Parliament Supports Impunity for Honor Killing," (Washington, DC: Human Rights Watch Press Release, January 2000).
29 For example, Russia, Peru, South Africa, and Pakistan. See Human Rights Watch reports: Crime or Custom: Violence Against Women in Pakistan, (New York: Human Rights Watch, August 1999); Violence Against Women in South Africa (New York: Human Rights Watch, November 1995); "Too Little, Too Late: State Response to Violence Against Women," (New York; Human Rights Watch, December 1997); and Human Rights Watch World Report 2000 (New York: Human Rights Watch: December 1999) pp. 444 - 446. See also "Peru: Law of Protection from Family Violence," (New York: Human Rights Watch Memorandum, March 31, 2000).
30 Radhika Coomaraswamy, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women report, "Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences," (New York: United Nations Publications E\CN.4/1996/53, February 6, 1996).
31 Human Rights Watch interviews, project coordinator, irc, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Project, Kibondo, Tanzania, June 1, 1998; unhcr consultant, Kasulu, Tanzania, May 26, 1998; community services officer, Christian Outreach, Kasulu, Tanzania, May 26, 1998; and community services officer, Dutch Relief Agency, Kibondo, Tanzania, June 3, 1998. Human Rights Watch interviewed community services officers from unhcr and implementing partners Christian Outreach, Africare and Diocese of Western Tanganyika in the Kasulu camps; UMATI, Dutch Relief Agency, and IRC in the Kibondo camps; and Norwegian People's Aid in the Ngara camps on rates and statistics of domestic violence in the camps in October and November 1999. Although efforts are being made by these organizations to compile statistics, they are neither accurate nor conclusive of the rate of occurrence of domestic violence in the camps due to a variety of factors related to the nature of domestic violence. These include the ad hoc and cumbersome nature of collecting data on refugee violence, lack of reporting, and a lack of systematic follow-up of reported cases
32 Human Rights Watch interviews, reproductive health officer, unicef, Kibondo, Tanzania, June 9, 1998 and reproductive health project assistant, UMATI Organization (an ngo that carries out research and provides health services to all refugees), Kibondo, Tanzania, June 9, 1998.
33 This report does not attempt to examine all the causes of domestic violence in the refugee camps, but focuses more on recourse and particular preventative measures that unhcr and implementing partners as well as the Tanzanian government must enforce in the camps.
34 Record of statistics drawn from irc's monthly reports on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Program given to Human Rights Watch by irc reproductive health officer, irc, New York, February 1999.
35 Record of statistics drawn from irc's monthly reports on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Program given to Human Rights Watch by irc's community services officers, Kibondo, Tanzania, November 9, 1999.
36 As of January 2000, the total population in the Kibondo camps was approximately 171, 214 Burundians.
37 Statistics drawn from unhcr Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Program report received in November 3, 1999.
38 As of February 2000, the total population in the Mtabila and Muyovosi camps was approximately 91,818 Burundians.
39 Human Rights Watch interview, unhcr community services consultant, Kasulu, Tanzania, May 24, 1998.
40 As of January 2000, approximately 90,000 Burundian refugees lived in Lukole A and B camps.
41 Human Rights Watch interview, unhcr community services officer, Ngara, Tanzania, November 12, 1999.
42 Although some refugees were not formally married, women and men alike used the term "husband" or "wife" to refer to their domestic partners, regardless of whether the union was sanctioned by the church or state.
43 unhcr community services and implementing partners coordinate a Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Program that addresses sexual and domestic violence in the Kasulu and Kibondo camps. In November 1999 when Human Rights Watch visited the Ngara camps , unhcr's Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Program only addressed the problem of rape and other sexual crimes, but not domestic violence. The section on "Responses by unhcr" has details on unhcr's Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Program in the Tanzanian camps.
44 Human Rights Watch interview, irc coordinator, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Program, Kibondo, Tanzania, June 1, 1998. The Section on "Responses by unhcr" has details on irc's programs in the Kibondo camps.
45 Human Rights Watch interview, refugee women's forum (group of ninety-two women refugees attending a sewing club), Mtendeli camp, Tanzania, November 5, 1999.
46 Human Rights Watch interviews, refugee women representatives, Mtabila 1 and 2, Kanembwa, Mtendeli, and Nduta camps; and refugee crisis intervention team, Lukole A and B camps, Tanzania, October and November 1999
47 Human Rights Watch interview, sungu-sungus, Nduta camp, November 8, 1999. See also, unhcr, Angry Young Men in Camps: Gender, Age, Class Relations among Burundian Refugees in Tanzania (unhcr, Geneva, June 1999).
49 See section on "Responses by the Tanzanian Government" for details on police attitudes to domestic violence. There is, however, hope for change as a new security contingent of about 258 Tanzanian police was deployed to the refugee camps in September and November 1999. unhcr planned to initiate training programs on police responsibilities in refugee operations, including police attitudes to crimes such as domestic and sexual violence committed mostly against women.
50 Human Rights Watch interviews, refugee women representatives, Mtabila 1 and 2, Kanembwa, Mtendeli, and Nduta camps and refugee crisis intervention team, Lukole A and B camps, Tanzania, October and November 1999.
51 Unless otherwise noted, all names have been changed, and the ages given reflect the age of the person at the time of the interview.
52 Human Rights Watch interview, Soplange S., Kanembwa camp, Tanzania, June 3, 1998.
53 Human Rights Watch interview, Rosalie P., Mtendeli camp, Tanzania, June 7, 1998.
54 Human Rights Watch interview, Gaudencia T., Mtendeli camp, Tanzania, June 7, 1998.
55 Dutch Relief Agency is a humanitarian organization that provides services to refugees, such as material support, community-based education programs, and counseling to victims of abuse in the camps, particularly women and girls who have experienced sexual and domestic violence.
56 Human Rights Watch interview, Munzime P., Nduta camp, Tanzania, November 8, 1999.
57 Human Rights Watch interview, Monique V., Mtendeli camp, Tanzania, June 7, 1998.
58 Human Rights Watch interview, Bezisiriya S., Mtendeli camp, Tanzania, November 5, 1999.
59 Human Rights Watch interview, Radegonde L., Mtendeli camp, Tanzania, June 7, 1998.
60 Human Rights Watch interview, Herapile T., Nduta camp, Tanzania, November 8, 1999.
61 Human Rights Watch interview, Jeanne Y., Mtendeli camp, Tanzania, June 7, 1998.
62 Human Rights Watch interview, women representatives, Mtabila 1 and 2 camps, Tanzania, November 1, 1999; women representatives, Kanembwa camp, Tanzania, November 6, 1999; women's forum, Mtendeli camp, Tanzania, November 5, 1999; and women representatives, Nduta camp, Tanzania, November 8, 1999.
63 Human Rights Watch interviews, UNHCR Field Officers, Kibondo, Tanzania, November 8, 1999.
65 Human Rights Watch interview, Beatrice F., Mtendeli camp, Tanzania, November 5, 1999.
66 Human Rights Watch interview, Annette G., Kanembwa Camp, Tanzania, June 3, 1998.
67 Human Rights Watch interview, Virginie M., Nduta camp, Tanzania, June 6, 1998.
68 Human Rights Watch interviews, abashingatahe, Mtabila 1 and 2 camps, Tanzania, November 2, 1999; women representatives, Mtabila 1 and 2 camps, Tanzania, November 1, 1999; sungu-sungus, Mtabila 1 and 2 camps, Tanzania, November 2, 1999; sungu-sungus, Kanembwa camp, Tanzania, November 4, 1999; abashingatahe, Kanembwa camp, Tanzania, November 6, 1999; women representatives, Kanembwa camp, Tanzania, November 6, 1999; sungu sungus, Mtendeli camp, Tanzania, November 5, 1999; and women's forum, Mtendeli camp, Tanzania, November 5, 1999.
69 Refugee men also complained to Human Rights Watch that married women were having boyfriends or extra-marital relationships in the camps.
70 Human Rights Watch interview, Anina D., Nduta camp, Tanzania, November 8, 1998.
71 Human Rights Watch interview, Epiphanie B., Nduta camp, Tanzania, June 3, 1998. Most Burundian refugees interviewed by Human Rights Watch used the term "second wife" when referring to the girlfriend of a married Burundian man. Polygamy is not legal under Burundian law; hence the term "girlfriend" has been used in this report to refer to a woman who has a relationship with a married man.
72 Human Rights Watch interview, Sara D., Mtendeli camp, Kibondo district, November 5, 1999.
73 Human Rights Watch interview, Rebecca N., Mtendeli camp, November 5, 1999.
74 Rhadhika Coomaraswamy, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women report, "Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences," (New York: United Nations Publications E\CN.4/1996/53, February 6, 1996), p. 138.
75 Human Rights Watch interviews, senior reproductive health officer, unhcr, Kibondo, Tanzania, November 7, 1999; community services officer, unhcr, Kasulu, Tanzania, November 2, 1999; irc community services officers, November 6, 199; and Dutch relief Agency community services officers, Kibondo, Tanzania, November 6, 1999.
76 Human Rights Watch interview, irc community services officers, Kibondo, Tanzania, November 6, 1999. Also see the sections on "Sexual Violence" for details on irc's drop-in centers and on "Responses by unhcr" for details on irc's efforts to establish shelters.