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The effect of gender norms on the association between violence and hope among girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • L. Stark (a1), K. Asghar (a1), S. Meyer (a1), G. Yu (a2), T. Bakemore (a3), C. Poulton (a4) and K. Falb (a5)...
Abstract
Background.

Girls at early stages of adolescence are vulnerable to violence victimization in humanitarian contexts, but few studies examine factors that affect girls’ hope in these settings. We assessed attitudes toward traditional gender norms as an effect modifier of the relationship between violence exposure and future orientation in displaced girls.

Methods.

Secondary analysis, using multivariable regression of cross-sectional data from girls ages 10–14 in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Key variables of interest were attitudes toward intimate partner violence (IPV), Children's Hope Scale (CHS) score, and exposure to physical, emotional, and sexual violence within the last 12 months. Additional covariates included age, educational status, and territory.

Results.

The interaction of exposure to violence and attitudes toward IPV magnified the association between violence exposure and lower CHS score for physical violence (β = −0.09, p = 0.040) and unwanted sexual touching (β = −0.20, p = 0.003) among girls age 10–14, when adjusting for other covariates. The interaction of exposure to violence and attitudes toward IPV magnified the association between violence exposure and lower CHS score for forced sex (β = −0.22, p = 0.016) among girls age 13–14, when adjusting for covariates. Findings for emotional violence, any form of sexual violence, and coerced sex trended toward lower CHS scores for girls who reported higher acceptance of IPV, but did not reach significance.

Conclusions.

Findings support the utility of gender norms-transformative programming in increasing resilience of girls who have experienced sexual violence in humanitarian contexts.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Dr L. Stark, DrPH, Associate Professor, Department of Population and Family Health, Columbia University, 60 Haven Avenue B-4, New York NY 10032, USA. (Email: ls2302@cumc.columbia.edu)
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