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Data Analysis Workshop of Child Marriage Project at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada

A workshop for data analysis on child marriage among Syrian Girls in Lebanon took place at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada at the end of October, set up by CHBOW partner Dr. Susan Bartels. It was the first meeting of all researchers involved in the project, since data collection was carried out in Lebanon this summer, including ESR Sophie Roupetz. The World Bank Group / Sexual Violence Research Initiative-funded project collected more than 1,400 stories from unmarried and married Syrian girls, mothers and fathers, unmarried and married Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian men, as well as community leaders, to better understand the sensitive topic of child marriage within the community. Laurie Webster of QED Insight, an experienced Cognitive Edge SenseMaker® consultant in the US, led us patiently through the analysis workshop.

The novel research tool – Cognitive Edge’s SenseMaker® - collects masses of mixed-method data in a short time. Using iPads and SenseMaker® software, narratives were voice recorded and then self-interpreted to gain a better understanding of current concerns within the refugee community. Within interactive groups, Susan Bartels (Queen’s University, Kingston), Sabine Lee (University of Birmingham, UK), Colleen Davison (Queen’s University, Kingston), Annie Bunting (York University, Toronto), Nour Bakhache (Queen’s University, Kingston), Nastassia Serste (Université de Rouen, France) and myself (University of Leipzig, Germany) discussed the findings, brainstormed about article ideas, and planned for next steps.

In addition to analysing the underlying factors contributing to child marriage, we will also be able to explore a variety of other concerns that were raised in the study such as experiences of violence, divorce, displacement and "survival sex". Although questions regarding child marriage were asked indirectly, 300 stories directly addressed the subject and a further 240 stories mentioned it, highlighting the topic’s importance among this refugee population.

Next to the socio-demographic outcomes, Laurie explained to us how to analyse SenesMaker data by looking into details gained from Triads, Dyads and Stones. Depending on the participant group, child marriage was more related to the factors of education, financial resources and/or protection and security. Regional differences in the perception of the importance of these factors have been compared between the capital of Beirut, Beqaa Valley and Tripoli.

First outcomes showed diverse perceptions among the various participant groups with regard to maintaining Syrian identity versus adopting the circumstances of being a refugee. In a majority of the stories, the emotional tone was more negative and made the narrator feel sad and disappointed. This finding is not unexpected from refugee settlements where life is difficult. With a large number of the stories shared, respondents wanted others to learn from them, and felt the impact of these experiences would be long-lived.

Via Skype, we were able to receive some input on preliminary data interpretations from our Lebanese partner, Saja Michael from the ABAAD Resource Center for Gender Equality. As a next step, part of the team is going back to Lebanon in January to communicate the findings and engage the communities through focus group discussions.

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