Call for Papers - Research on Sexuality, Reproduction, and Intimacy in Forced Displacement During COVID-19: Considering Power Dynamics and Ethical Concerns

Research on Sexuality, Reproduction, and Intimacy in Forced Displacement During COVID-19: Considering Power Dynamics and Ethical Concerns

Submitted by Shirin Heidari, Thanasis Tyrovolas, Jane Freedman
For panel Love, sex and crisis: challenges and paths forward for sexual and reproductive health and rights in humanitarian settings

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated gender inequalities, creating multiple vulnerabilities and structural inequities specifically for women and people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity. The gendered impact of the outbreak itself and the measures introduced to curb the pandemic, have had a devastating impact on displaced people whose mobility has been further reduced, and whose livelihoods have been impacted as they often work in informal, precarious sectors. This has led, for example, to greater involvement in transactional sex (TS) and greater vulnerability to sexual violence and exploitation. Access to SRH services is often limited in forced displacement and humanitarian settings, and further diminished during the pandemic, yet the extent of the impact on their SRH is often not inadequately captured. COVID-19 forced many researchers to resort to online research with forcibly displaced populations. However, these approaches to research on sensitive topics such as TS and SRHR raise unique ethical and gender concerns that risk reinforcing gender inequality. We call for an intersectional feminist and decolonial approach to SRH research in forced displacement that addresses inherent power imbalances in the research process, and meaningfully engages displaced populations to ensure research is relevant to their concerns and power dynamics are equalized.

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