The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that at least 3.5 million people are currently stateless, meaning that they are not recognized as citizens of any country. Because few governments identify or register stateless persons, UNHCR estimates the global stateless population may be as high as 10 million. These individuals are often vulnerable to exploitation and other threats because they lack access to health care, education, livelihoods, and legal status. In an effort to better understand the relationship between statelessness and vulnerability to gender-based violence (GBV), PRM funded Johns Hopkins University to conduct research to help inform humanitarian diplomacy and programming that could reduce the vulnerability of stateless individuals to GBV.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
- Conduct qualitative research to describe experiences of GBV, vulnerabilities, GBV-related health outcomes and barriers in access to care among stateless populations in Cote d’Ivoire and the Dominican Republic
- Conduct population-based research to quantitatively estimate the prevalence of GBV experiences, GBV-related health outcomes, mental illness, and access to healthcare
- Analyze risk factors for GBV, GBV perpetration, and health outcomes
- Compare GBV estimates and health indicators from stateless populations to host citizen populations
- Develop evidence-based recommendations to address GBV and GBV-related health issues and gaps
- Being undocumented, or being stateless, directly and indirectly affects multiple dimensions of people’s lives, increasing vulnerability to GBV, though not necessarily experiencing GBV, and at risk of facing challenges in accessing healthcare or legal reporting following cases of GBV.
- Both women and men who were stateless were less likely to have ever attended school or attended secondary school; were more likely to face challenges legally marrying a partner; less likely to have any form of health insurance; less likely to own the land upon which they lived; and less likely to be able to open a bank account, compared to those with Ivoirian nationality – all of which are likely attributable to the fact that a lack of citizenship prohibits basic access to legal services and education.
- Stateless women who experience GBV have low access to healthcare and protection services. Also noteworthy was the finding that stateless persons in both countries reported avoiding healthcare because of fear of deportation.
- Dominican Republic governmental health services should be expanded to include affordable preventative care and specialty care to be available for persons, but particularly for survivors of GBV. The government should ensure that that GBV programs are scaled up and accessible regardless of nationality and without risk of deportation for those without documentation, which will allow stateless persons who experience GBV to access appropriate services.
- The Ivoirian government should ensure that that GBV programs are scaled up in rural settings and accessible regardless of nationality, which will allow stateless persons who experience GBV to access appropriate services.
- A national approach to improve GBV awareness and addressing misconceptions and reducing financial burdens to access needed services regardless of one’s documentation status will resolve challenges in accessing GBV care and reporting among the populations.
- Strengthening access to justice for survivors of violence and removing deportation risk for those without documentation will aid in opening the pathway to reporting cases and ensuring protection against GBV for stateless populations who experience violence.