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Table 5 Findings from the qualitative studies (n = 15)

From: Sex trafficking and sexual exploitation in settings affected by armed conflicts in Africa, Asia and the Middle East: systematic review

Author (Year) Country Setting Study population Type of sexual exploitation or trafficking Thematic findings on risk factors Thematic findings on abduction Thematic findings on perpetrators Thematic findings on adverse consequences/outcomes Quality score
Bartels [26] Lebanon Refugee camps Syrian refugees, Ages 18+ years Early or forced marriage informal tents, economic insecurity, need for employment Families need to be made more aware of the risk of abduction. Perpetrators were host country men, employers, aid workers, and family members. increased social/physical abuse, maternal mortality, human trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV 70%
Betancourt [37] Sierra Leone Conflict affected regions Former child soldiers Age 10–17 caregivers, Former child soldiers’ relatives, key informants Sexual exploitation of combatants - A high majority of the sample youth reported joining the Revolutionary united Front (RUF) by force/abduction.   stigma, decline in adaptive and pro-social behaviours, internalizing problems 70%
Brosnan [27] Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq Refugee camps and urban displacement Refugees, Government officials, IGO representatives, Non-governmental organization (NGO) staff Early or forced marriage displacement, economic insecurity, walking to school, rape Families used early marriage as a way to safeguard their daughters honour. Perpetrators were family members, host country citizens and armed forces personnel. shame, stigma, anxiety, trauma, interrupted education, repeated rape 45%
Carlson [28] Uganda Internally displaced persons camps Formerly abducted women/girls Additional use of key informants to target group Early or forced marriage, Sexual exploitation of combatants customary practices, economic hardship, puberty, living in an internally displaced persons camp, youth Abduction was carried out by the Lord’s Resistance Army personnel and the field commanders had priority to forced marriages. Often field commanders were the greatest culprits with multiple wives. pregnancy, physical harm, mental harm, separation from family, death 70%
CSUCS [53] DRC Conflict affected regions, North and South Kivu Military officials, government officials, NGO workers, child protection workers, community members, relatives Sexual exploitation of combatants war, absence of parents vulnerable children, armed groups, displacement, legal protection - The perpetrators were members of the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC). injury, death 50%
Denov [42] Sierra Leone Conflict affected regions RUF former child soldiers Age 14–21 (all were 18 or under at time of exposure) Sexual exploitation of combatants war, widespread impoverishment, the breakdown of human security, and the gradual atomization of families and communities Abductions often lasted between 2–18 months. Victims were abducted by RUF soldiers. physical, psychological, and social effects, community rejection, education dropout, 60%
Denov [43] Sierra Leone All regions Former child soldiers Sexual exploitation of combatants war, unprotected children, fragmented political economy, disempowered women All the participants had been abducted by the RUF under circumstances of extreme coercion, violence, and fear. The RUF were most often responsible for abductions. depression, violent injuries, pregnancy, stabbing, vomiting 60%
Gottschalk [29] Uganda Refugee camps Refugees Early or forced marriage financial constraints, displacement, absence of parents, reduced livelihood options, war, untrained police, limited protective services, extramarital sexual relationships, physical insecurity - Often it is parents or guardians arranging the early marriages. physical injury, social stigmas, rejection from family, school drop out 65%
Higonnet [30] Cote d’Ivoire Conflict affected regions Survivors and witnesses of sexual violence Early or forced marriage, Sexual exploitation of combatants, Sex slavery low status of women and girls, conflict, low social status, economic disadvantage, traveling employment, political leaders wives and family members, displacement - Often girls were abducted by combatants and when they resisted abduction they were physically punished. death, unwanted pregnancy, STIs, anxiety, shame, anger, depression, and fear 65%
Kaya [47] Afghanistan All regions victims of trafficking or kidnapping, smuggled migrants, key informants Sex slavery protracted conflict, insecurity, limited access, instability, poverty, lack of trafficking awareness, loss of livelihood, high proportion of widows/orphans/people with disabilities, criminal networks, multiple neighbouring countries A majority of trafficking victims are abducted under the lure of a better life or positive outcome and the remaining are kidnapped by force. Many traffickers are involved in complex criminal networks. Often an individual's own family will sell them. stigmatization, psychological harm, physical distress, pregnancy, loss of education 80%
Kippenberg [31] DRC Conflict affected regions victims of rape, relatives, witnesses, community members, military combatants Early or forced marriage, Sex slavery conflict insecurities, insufficient pay for soldiers - The sample reported that the sexual exploitation was predominantly committed by the 14th brigade of the FARDC. injury, death 70%
Save the Children [32] Jordan Refugee camps refugees Early or forced marriage poverty, insecurity, fear of violence, conflict, youth Many Syrian refugee families arranged the daughters’ weddings to Jordanian men. - poverty, loss of education, separation from family and friends, limited access to reproductive health, physical harm, mental and emotional strain, domestic violence, premature pregnancy 35%
Schlecht [33] Uganda Refugee camps Ugandan and Congolese refugees Early or forced marriage, Sexual exploitation of combatants conflict, poverty, divided family, school dropout, early relationships, loss of livelihood Families often planned early marriages and bride prices. During conflict there is militia-perpetrated abduction, forced marriage, and sex slavery. - poor health outcomes, poor social outcomes, early sexual debut, high risk pregnancy, limitations in negotiating condom use, STDs, school dropout, limited economic opportunity 70%
Stavrou [34] Angola Conflict affected regions Formerly abducted girl soldiers Avg. 21 years Early or forced marriage combat zones, presence of soldiers, youth, displacement - The perpetrators were most often military personnel. STDs, pregnancy, exhaustion, malnutrition, TB, abuse, death 60%
Weber [35] Uganda Conflict affected regions victims of military violence, relatives of victims, and former LRA abductees Early or forced marriage, Sexual exploitation of combatants conflict, youth, displacement, travel - The perpetrators were most often military personnel. unwanted pregnancy, STDs, injury, death 50%