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Adolescent girls at school in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. Photo: Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE

Do laws promoting gender equity and freedom from violence benefit the most vulnerable? A multilevel analysis of women’s and adolescent girls’ experiences in 15 low- and-middle-income countries

10.02.22 | Global

Bodily integrity | Bodily integrity and freedom from violence | Gender equality | Gender-based violence | laws

Authors

Lauren Maxwell, Zara Khan and Kathryn M Yount

In this analysis, we assess whether laws that promote gender equity and freedom from violence are associated with a lower risk of prior-year physical and sexual intimate partner violence (IPV) among adolescent girls and adult women (AGW) and whether these laws protect more and less vulnerable AGW equally. We included all 15 countries that administered the Domestic Violence Module in a Demographic and Health Survey since 2015.

Laws on marital rape, child marriage and sexual harassment were negatively associated with prior-year physical and sexual IPV for women and girls. Comprehensive domestic violence legislation was unrelated to girls’ experiences of prior-year physical or prior-year sexual IPV. No interaction was observed between LoVI component laws and a score meant to capture adolescent vulnerability. Three of the four LoVI component laws had consistent, negative associations with partner violence for girls and women, but negative associations were stronger for women than girls. Thus, while laws promoting gender equity and freedom from violence are generally protective, they may be more so for women than adolescent girls.

Suggested citation

Maxwell, L., Khan, Z. and Yount, K.M. (2022) Do laws promoting gender equity and freedom from violence benefit the most vulnerable? A multilevel analysis of women’s and adolescent girls’ experiences in 15 low- and-middle-income countries, Health Policy and Planning, 37(1): 3344 (https://doi.org/10.1093/heapol/czab127)


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