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A hidden problem in an excluded population: understanding vulnerabilities to and experiences of sexual violence among young migrants in Sweden

Publicerad:22 maj

Tanya Anderssons har forskat om sårbarheter för och erfarenheter av sexuellt båld bland unga invandrare i Sverige.


Tanya Andersson


Benedict Oppong Asamoah, Lunds universitet Professor Anette Agardh Lunds universitet Tobias Herder, Lunds universitet


Professor Ines Keygnaert, Ghent University, Belgien

Disputerat vid

Lunds universitet



Abstract in English

Background: International migration has been on the rise over the past few decades and is expected to remain high. Young people make up a significant proportion of those migrating. It has long been known that young people are at greater risk of sexual violence and there is growing evidence that migrants too, are particularly vulnerable. There is a lack of evidence on young migrants’ vulnerability to sexual violence. The overall aim of this thesis is to understand vulnerabilities to and experiences of sexual violence among young migrants in Sweden using a multi-method approach.
Methods: Paper I was a systematic review employing a critical interpretive synthesis methodology to understand the vulnerabilities to and experiences of sexual violence among young migrants in Europe. Paper II was a qualitative study using in-depth individual interviews to explore professionals’ experiences of meetings with young migrants disclosing sexual violence. Data was analysed using qualitative content analysis. Paper III applied the intersectionality-based policy analysis framework to understand how Swedish national-level policies interacted to construct young migrants’ vulnerabilities to sexual violence.
Results: The main finding of Paper I was the lack of studies exploring young migrants’ vulnerabilities to sexual violence. Existing studies investigated different sub-groups of migrants and used different definitions of sexual violence making comparisons across studies difficult and hindering the generalisabity of results. Despite this, there is clear evidence that young migrants, both male and female, are vulnerable to sexual violence and that these vulnerabilities arise from each level of the socio-ecological model. Paper II found that professionals recognised young migrants’ structural vulnerabilities and their association with experiences of sexual violence. They felt a great deal of responsibility to meet the many and varied needs that young migrants presented with, while at the same time experiencing a lack of clarity in how to respond to sexual violence, which can lead to moral distress. The findings from Paper III indicate that power as well as access to human rights and services are integral to understanding sexual violence in Swedish national-level policies. Meanwhile the policies constituting the migration regime work largely to restrict power and access and thereby contribute to their vulnerabilities to sexual violence.
Conclusion: There is a lack of evidence on the vulnerabilities to and experiences of sexual violence among young migrants in Sweden. What evidence there is points to a largely hidden problem affecting the lives of both male and female young migrants and that the sources of these vulnerabilities are largely structural. Additional research is required to understand prevalences of sexual violence as well as the vulnerabilities and experiences of sexual violence of different groups of young migrants.

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