Attitudes towards help-seeking for sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian settings: the case of Rwamwanja refugee settlement scheme in Uganda

BMC Int Health Hum Rights. 2018 Mar 12;18(1):15. doi: 10.1186/s12914-018-0154-6.


Background: Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) remains a silent epidemic in many humanitarian settings with many survivors concealing their experiences. Attitudes towards help-seeking for SGBV is an important determinant of SGBV service use. This paper examined the association between attitudes towards seeking care and knowledge and perceptions about SGBV among men and women in a humanitarian setting in Uganda.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted from May to June 2015 among 601 heads of refugee households (261 females and 340 males) in Rwamwanja Refugees Settlement Scheme, South West Uganda. Analysis entails cross-tabulation with chi-square test and estimation of a multivariate logistic regression model.

Results: Results showed increased odds of having a favorable attitude toward seeking help for SGBV among women with progressive attitudes towards SGBV (OR = 2.78, 95% CI: 1.56-4.95); who felt that SBGV was not tolerated in the community (OR = 2.03, 95% CI: 1.03-4.00); those who had not experienced violence (OR = 2.08, 95% CI: 1.06-4.07); and those who were aware of the timing for post-exposure prophylaxis (OR = 3.08, 95% CI: 1.57-6.04). In contrast, results for men sample showed lack of variations in attitude toward seeking help for SGBV for all independent variables except timing for PEP (OR = 2.57, 95% CI: 1.30-5.10). Among individuals who had experienced SGBV, the odds of seeking help was more likely among those with favorable attitude towards seeking help (OR = 4.22, 95% CI: 1.47-12.06) than among those with unfavorable help-seeking attitudes.

Conclusion: The findings of the paper suggest that targeted interventions aimed at promoting awareness and progressive attitudes towards SGBV are likely to encourage positive help-seeking attitudes and behaviors in humanitarian contexts.

Keywords: Attitudes and behavior; Help-seeking; Humanitarian settings; Sexual and gender-based violence; Uganda.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gender-Based Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Refugees / psychology
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uganda