Everything or Anything?

Mental Health, Disability, Commercial Sex Workers, and SGBV.

There is a research on each of these independent subjects coming out of Sierra Leone specifically.  Not a lot, but some.  Enough research at least to be useful in motivating changes in policy and new laws to be passed.  However, when you dive to the next layer to see what data there is on the intersections between mental health and SGBV; disability and SGBV; or commercial sex workers and SGBV there is virtually no research.  There are many platitudes and blank statements saying they are connected, yet no firm data. Given this, I then went a step further past the published research results to the people on the ground, touching base with many of the local non-profits as well as government ministries/agencies.  When communicating with the people actively engaged on the ground, virtually everyone was able to give many specific examples and experiences of the intersections of SGBV with each referenced category.  This proved that contrary to there being no data, there has simply been no reported data.  Is this a problem?  In the end, I would argue yes. 

For the short-term it does not seem monumental, as the various organizations are still able to labor in order to help and serve those most marginalized.  However, over the long-term the issue becomes one of sustained funding to serve the marginalized and create an impact across the society at large.  Not having the formalized data to capture as many impacts being made as possible (for there is impact being made in each are currently, just not well documented impact), makes fundraising efforts more and more difficult over time.  Given the effort to change the very dynamics of the family unit in Sierra Leone (from the current state of accepting SGBV in culture to the state of not accepting it) is one likely to play out over decades rather than years where long-term funding and long-term trends will become increasingly important.  With this consideration, that data being reported and used becomes increasingly important.  Which then begs the questions of why it is not (or has not) been reported, how to have it reported, and how to ensure it is done without expending excessive time and resources of those on the ground trying to change lives?