Migrant experiences of sexual and gender based violence: a critical interpretative synthesis

Sze Eng Tan, Katie Kuschminder

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Gender based violence (GBV) is a critical issue and migrants are at higher risk of experiencing and being victimized by GBV. This critical interpretative synthesis (CIS) examines migrants experiences of GBV with a focus on different migrant groups and experiences at different stages of the migrant journey. Method: The guiding question of this review is: “how do migrants experience gender-based violence?” A total of 84 studies were included in the CIS, of which 67 peer-reviewed academic articles were selected from 2356 studies found on WebofScience, MedLINE, and ProQuest, and 17 relevant studies from the grey literature were selected from the time period 2011 to 2020. All final studies were reviewed and synthesized using a critical inductive approach to formulate the key results. Results: The results demonstrate a high prevalence of GBV amongst migrants, and in particular among vulnerable migrant groups such as forced migrants and irregular migrants, with an emerging focus on male victims. Findings of the CIS revealed three key themes: 1) Most GBV occurrences are rooted in unequal power dynamics; 2) Victims often live with long-lasting consequences that are worsened by their fear of disclosure and stigmatization; 3) There are differential understandings of victimhood across organizations, communities, and victims themselves. In order to support access, sampling, and methodological challenges in this field of research, this article also reports its findings on common risk-factors identified, consequences and coping mechanisms reported, protection policies targeting GBV, and finally, available databases and data collection methods. Conclusion: Further directions for research should be encouraged to move beyond prevalence reporting into identifying risk-factors and possible prevention in both sexes. In addition, more research on GBV experiences throughout migrants’ journeys, and coping mechanisms should be encouraged.
Original languageEnglish
Article number68
JournalGlobalization and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Critical interpretive synthesis
  • Gender-based violence
  • Migration
  • Sexual violence
  • Vulnerable
  • Worldwide


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