Translators without Borders, in collaboration with Oxfam, has identified six key tips for humanitarians to address the sociolinguistic barriers that often occur when working with interpreters on sensitive topics, and to support the mental health of interpreters.
What do we mean by “sensitive topics”? These might be culturally sensitive or taboo issues relating to violence, abuse, exploitation, as well as gender equality, reproductive health, and sexual norms and behaviors. Many sensitive topics are relevant to protection work. However, they also relate to other areas such as health, psychosocial support, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH). For instance,
WaSH and health programmes may need to discuss menstruation, and risks of sexual violence can be an issue for both protection and shelter programs. Interpreters and programme teams may have to address similar sensitivities in public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.