The research on “Psychosocial problems among conflict affected women and children” was conducted by IHRICON with the support of Medica Mondiale. The study was conducted in 5 VDCs from the following 5 districts: Kailali, Dang, Gorkha, Chitwan and Sindhuli of Nepal between July 2007 and August 2007. The study also included direct or indirect contact with conflict affected children.
Throughout the past eleven years, both the security forces of the Government of Nepal and those of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists have involved children in political violence. The actions of both have also resulted in many women being widowed and then compelled to take on the role of “the men of the community” in order to act as the main bread winners for their families. Promoting psychosocial well-being is essential for strengthening community ties as well as looking to:
- reduce the risk of the long term effects of the continued political violence,
- reduce the spread of political terror, and
- reduce the attitude and desire for revenge.
Moreover, addressing the psychosocial needs of those who have been most affected by the conflict helps to reduce the level of psychological distress suffered. Addressing these matters also enhances the strength of the family unit and social harmony across Nepal society in general. Confronting these areas also leads to a better understanding of the reasons for substance abuse, the acts of self harm as well as other forms of emotional suffering suffered by many people at an individual level.
The goal of this study was to identify the extent of psychosocial distress amongst conflict affected women and children, the risk factors which caused psychosocial distress and the resources available to address the affects of psychosocial distress, with a particular focus on community healing practices.
The four specified study questions are as follows:
1) What is the psychosocial well-being of women and children in conflict affected areas? This question helped to identify the needs of children and women as well as the occurrence and severity of psychosocial problems amongst this group.
2) What are the existing risk factors that hamper psychosocial well-being of the affected children and women? This question addressed cultural and community issues related to gender, alcohol abuse and domestic violence, religion, caste, and ethnicity, which are acting or may act as barriers to maximizing psychosocial well-being.
3) What are existing (community) protective factors for the psychosocial well-being? This question examined community practices that promote psychosocial well-being, such as some forms of traditional healing, normalizing activities, etc.
4) How will families and communities be involved in the psychosocial care and support of conflict affected women and children? The question examined beliefs and practices amongst families and communities that will facilitate reconciliation and dialogue between conflicted affected, internally displaced people and their communities. The findings from this question formed the foundation of recommendations to foster local psychosocial resources.