Section 2: Migration and Gender-Related Issues: Sexual/Reproductive Health and Violence in Forcibly Displaced Populations
The United States Prison System Viewed as a System of Forced Migration
The United States Prison System is one of the largest systems of forced migration and displacement in the world, targeting hundreds of thousands of African American and Latinx individuals. The European Union defines a forced migrant as “A person subject to a migratory movement in which an element of coercion exists, including threats to life and livelihood, whether arising from natural or man-made causes.” When a person is arrested and sent to prison, they are trafficked, sometimes thousands of miles out of their community by correctional officers who threaten to shoot and kill them if they do not cooperate. You may not think of those who are incarcerated as forced migrants, but does it make a difference if a person is forced out of their homes and community by a correctional officer, political unrest, or a natural disaster? The forced migration of inmates leads to higher health problems in the prison population, puts a strain on families, and disrupts the communities where those who are incarcerated come from, mirroring the challenges introduced by other forced migrations.
This bibliography section aims to facilitate novel discourse on mass incarceration and forced migration to show that the United States prison system is one of forced migration. To do this, the bibliography compares the similar effects that the prison system and immigrant deportation and detention have on individual and family healthcare, family finances and cohesion, and community trust and prosperity in the United States.
Effect of the Prison System on Individual and Family Health
- James C. Thomas and Elizabeth Torrone, “Incarceration as Forced Migration: Effects on Selected Community Health Outcomes,” American Journal of Public Health (July 2008)
- Research paper on the rate of sexually transmitted infections for those who are incarcerated in North Carolina and its similarity to the rate of sexually transmitted infections for forced migrants.
- Leila Morsy and Richard Rothstein, “Mass Incarceration and Children’s Outcomes,” Economic Policy Institute, December 15, 2016
- Article on the health problems introduced because of stress, lack of support, and other related issues for the children of those who are incarcerated.
- Jim Anderson, “Health Impacts of Immigrant Deportation in the United States,” Clinical Advisor, July 25, 2019
- Article on the health problems introduced by stress, fear, and other related issues for children who are forced migrants or the child of a parent who is a forced migrant.
Effect of the Prison System on Family Finance
- Time is Money (2014), directed by Eleanor Bell with Daniel Wagner
- Documentary on the ways in which private vendors and correctional facilities profit off of those who are incarcerated, at the expense of their family members.
- Julia Preston and Andrew Calderon, “‘We sit in disbelief’: the anguish of families torn apart under Trump’s deportation policy,” The Guardian, June 22, 2020
- Article on several families who have been financially debilitated because of deportation.
Effect of the Prison System on Family Cohesion
- Shaila Dewan, “Family Separation: It’s a Problem for U.S. Citizens, Too,” The New York Times, June 22, 2018
- Article on the similarity between the impact of family separation from incarceration and deportation.
- Beatrix Lockwood and Nicole Lewis, “The Long Journey to Visit a Family Member in Prison,” The Marshall Project, December 18th, 2019
- Story on the limitations a mother has visiting her son in prison because of the distance that those who are incarcerated are trafficked.
- Caitlin Patler and Nicholas Branic, “Patterns of Family Visitation During Immigration Detention,” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences (July 2017)
- Research paper on the similarity between the rate of family visits to immigrant detention centers and family visits to prisons.
Effect of the Prison System on Community Advantage and Trust
- Tanya Golash-Boza, “The Parallels between Mass Incarceration and Mass Deportation: An Intersectional Analysis of State Repression,” Race Talk, May 16, 2020
- Podcast on the similar effects that mass incarceration and mass deportation and have on black and brown individuals and communities.
- Emily Von Hoffmann, “How Incarceration Infects a Community,” The Atlantic, March 6, 2015
- Article on the ways in which incarceration acts as a virus on the economy, coherence, and health of a community.
- Regina Day Langhout, Sara L. Buckingham, Ashmeet Kaur Oberoi, Noé Rubén Chávez, Dana Rusch, Francesca Esposito, Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, “The Effects of Deportation on Families and Communities,” Society for Community Research and Action
- Policy statement on the consequences of deportation on latinx communities.
Compiled by Eli Appelson
Migration and Gender-Related Issues: Sexual/Reproductive Health and Violence in Forcibly Displaced Populations
Sexual and reproductive health and violence is a historically stigmatized and silenced issue. Although massive strides have been made to bring attention and funding to these subjects since the delineation of reproductive health as a right at the 1994 UN conference on Population and Development in Cairo, it is nonetheless a pertinent and sensitive matter with persisting need for change. Barriers to reproductive health and instances of sexual violence are especially exacerbated in situations of violent conflict and forced migration. Access to reproductive health in refugee camps is strained by logistics and cultural taboo; sexual violence is a reality which has been normalized as a part of the “refugee experience.” As a senior (male) UNHCR official working in a refugee camp in Australia explained, “[rape] happens so often to these women that they get used to it, sort of expect it” (Pittaway and Bartolomei). Furthermore, fear of extreme retaliation from perpetrators, law enforcement, and/or the survivor’s own community leads to very low reporting rates (for all genders), continuing both silence and stigma.
It may seem that the most efficient way to “solve” or alleviate these colossal issues is through humanitarian and NGO reports for donors, or perhaps academic works; i.e. through identifying and detailing quantifiable gaps and ways to close them. While there is logistic truth to this statement, it has the ability to desensitize us to a highly personal experience; it is important to be in continuous consultation with and awareness of the stories of those around whom discussion revolves but often excludes. And while a substantial amount of ethnographic research—with findings based on interviews with those affected—exists, the relayed “refugee experience” is still controlled by and filtered through a western researcher. Therefore, as you peruse the following sources, please keep in mind the gravity of the information, the individuals behind the statistics, and the context in which the findings are reported and ingested.
*Sensitive content warning: Many of the sources below include discussion and portrayals of sensitive topics including (but not limited to) sexual violence, exploitation, torture, and abuse.*
Introducing reproductive health and gaps therein
- Mia Foreman, “Improving Reproductive Health Services for Forcibly Displaced Women,” Population Reference Bureau, January 21, 2013
- Liesl Schanbel and Cindy Huang, “Removing Barriers and Closing Gaps: Improving Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for Rohingya Refugees and Host Communities,” Center for Global Development, June 5, 2019
- Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs in Emergencies, Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises, n.d.
- For more information from the same source, visit the following website which includes quick links to webinars, teaching models, and articles related to adolescents and reproductive health: Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health | Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises
- Sandra Krause, “Reproductive Health Care in Crises Has Come a Long Way, But There’s More to Be Done” (Podcast), December 8, 2016
Sexual and Gender-based Violence
“Before the 1990s, sexual violence in war was, with rare exception, largely invisible. If not invisible, it was trivialized; if not trivialized, it was considered a private matter or justified as an inevitable by-product of war, the necessary reward for the fighting men.” Rhonda Copelon, Gender Crimes as War Crimes, McGill Law Journal (2000), 220
- Jane Freedman, “Sexual and gender-based violence against refugee women: a hidden aspect of the refugee “crisis”,” Reproductive Health Matters (June 7, 2016)
- Syria’s women fear sham marriages and rape(Video), Channel 4 News, 2013
- Cody Wofsy and Katrina Eiland, “Jeff Sessions’ Illegal Attacks on Asylum Seekers,” American Civil Liberties Union, August 7, 2018
- Eileen Pittaway and Linda Bartolomei, “Refugees, Race and Gender: the Multiple Discriminations against Refugee Women,” Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, August 1, 2001
- Emily Ausubel, “An Untold Story: The Need to Address Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Refugee Boys,” Kennedy School Review, October 22, 2019
- Yes, I Am (2019), Tucheke Movie Productions
- This film, as the attached website indicates, was created by refugees in the Nakivale camp in Uganda. It is intended to be viewed by other refugees and to serve as a conversation starter on issues of sexual exploitation and violence, instances of which many of the film’s creators have experienced. This is not necessarily an enjoyable film to watch; scenes that are meant to start a conversation might strike some viewers as questionable, unpleasant, or not the obvious choice. In other words, it is not a film that conforms to western film standards, and it is for this reason that I chose to include it. The conversation surrounding sexual health is a conversation largely catered to the humanitarian, donor, and academic communities, less so to the refugee community itself. This film tells a story that highlights the voices of individuals as opposed to using them to support an academic theory or attract donations. It might also give insight as to how topics of sexual violence and health are presented to adolescents in forced migration contexts (although this is not a basis for generalizations- one experience/example by no means speaks for them all).
- Common Threads Project, “The Fabric of Healing: Story Cloths by Survivors of Trauma, War and Gender-Based Violence,” (2020): virtual exhibit featuring various artists
- Home: a poem by Warsan Shire (Video), 2017: video of Shire reading her poem
Compiled by Kaiya John