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UNICEF Innocenti's complete catalogue of international peer reviewed journals

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COVID-19: Reducing the risk of infection might increase the risk of intimate partner violence

AUTHOR(S)
N. van Gelder, Amber Peterman, Alina Potts

Published: 2020
The ongoing pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2, the causal agent of the acute respiratory distress syndrome COVID-19, is placing unprecedented stress on healthcare systems and societies as a whole. The rapid spread of the virus in the absence of targeted therapies or a vaccine, is forcing countries to respond with strong preventative measures ranging from mitigation to containment. In extreme cases, quarantines are being imposed, limiting mobility to varying degrees.
While quarantines are an effective measure of infection control, they can lead to significant social, economic and psychological consequences. Social distancing fosters isolation; exposes personal and collective vulnerabilities while limiting accessible and familiar support options. The inability to work has immediate economic repercussions and deprives many individuals of essential livelihoods and health care benefits. Psychological consequences may range from stress, frustration and anger to severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A recent review drawing on lessons from past pandemics shows the length of quarantine increases the risk for serious psychological consequences.

Does Keeping Adolescent Girls in School Protect against Sexual Violence? Quasi-experimental evidence from East and Southern Africa

AUTHOR(S)
J. Behrman, Amber Peterman, Tia Palermo

Published: 2017

Purpose

We examine the relationship between educational attainment in adolescence on young women's lifetime experience of sexual violence in Malawi and Uganda.

Methods

Exposure to Universal Primary Education policies in the mid-1990s serves as a natural experiment to estimate the causal effect of schooling on women's subsequent experience of sexual violence using an instrumented regression discontinuity design and Demographic and Health Survey data.

Results

We find a one-year increase in grade attainment leads to a nine-percentage point reduction (p < .05) in the probability of ever experiencing sexual violence in a sample of 1,028 Ugandan women (aged 18–29 years), an estimate which is considerably larger than observational estimates. We find no effect of grade attainment on ever experiencing sexual violence among a sample of 4,413 Malawian women (aged 19–31 years). In addition, we find no relationship between grade attainment and 12-month sexual violence in either country. Analysis of pathways indicates increased grade attainment increases literacy and experience of premarital sex in Malawi and reduces the probability of ever being married in both countries.

Conclusions

Keeping girls in school results in a number of benefits for young women; however, protects against lifetime experience of sexual violence only in Uganda. It is possible that overall higher grade attainment, particularly at secondary school levels is driving this effect in Uganda. More research on this relationship is needed, as well as on effective interventions, particularly those which can be taken to scale related to enhancing the quality and quantity of education.

Physical, Emotional and Sexual Adolescent Abuse Victimisation in South Africa: Prevalence, incidence, perpetrators and locations

AUTHOR(S)
F. Meinck, F. Cluver, M. Boyes, Heidi Loening-Voysey

Published: 2016

Background Physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children is a major problem in South Africa, with severe negative outcomes for survivors. To date, no known studies have used data directly obtained from community-based samples of children to investigate prevalence, incidence, locations and perpetrators of child abuse victimisation. This study aims to investigate prevalence and incidence, perpetrators, and locations of child abuse victimisation in South Africa using a multicommunity sample.

Methods 3515 children aged 10–17 years (56.6% female) were interviewed from all households in randomly selected census enumeration areas in two South African provinces. Child self-report questionnaires were completed at baseline and at 1-year follow-up (96.7% retention).

Results Prevalence was 56.3% for lifetime physical abuse (18.2% past-year incidence), 35.5% for lifetime emotional abuse (12.1% incidence) and 9% for lifetime sexual abuse (5.3% incidence). 68.9% of children reported any type of lifetime victimisation and 27.1% reported lifetime multiple abuse victimisation. Main perpetrators of abuse were reported: for physical abuse, primary caregivers and teachers; for emotional abuse, primary caregivers and relatives; and for sexual abuse, girlfriend/boyfriends or other peers.

Conclusions This is the first study assessing current self-reported child abuse through a large, community-based sample in South Africa. Findings of high rates of physical, emotional and sexual abuse demonstrate the need for targeted and effective interventions to prevent incidence and re-victimisation.

The Relationship between Parental Presence and Child Sexual Violence: Evidence from thirteen countries in sub-Saharan Africa

AUTHOR(S)
R. Kidman, Tia Palermo

Published: 2016
There are compelling reasons to believe that orphans – many millions due to the AIDS epidemic – are more likely to be sexually victimized during childhood. Few studies have empirically investigated sexual violence disparities, and those that do suffer from methodological limitations and limited geographic scope. We used nationally representative data on female adolescents (15–17 years) from 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. We built multilevel logistic models to test for an association between the dependent variables (orphanhood and parental absence) and sexual violence, both within countries and pooled across all countries. Approximately 10% of adolescent girls reported past experiences of sexual violence; a third of those victimized were 14 years or younger at the time of their first forced encounter. Paternal orphaning (OR 1.36, p ≤ 0.01), double orphaning (OR 1.47, p ≤ 0.05), and paternal absence (OR 1.28; p ≤ 0.05) were significantly associated with experiencing sexual violence in pooled analyses. Fewer findings reached significance within individual countries. Our findings suggest that the lack of a father in the home (due to death or absence) places girls at heightened risk for childhood sexual abuse; further research identifying pathways of vulnerability and resilience specific to this population is needed. Our findings also indicate that abuse often starts at an early age; thus promising programs should be adapted for younger age groups and rigorously tested.
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