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Gender-norms, violence and adolescence: exploring how gender norms are associated with experiences of childhood violence among young adolescents in Ethiopia

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Written by Nicola Jones

Hero image description: Girl from Afar Image credit:Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE 2019

Adolescence is a time of particular risk for violence perpetrated by parents, teachers, peers and intimate partners. Social norms that condone violent discipline, promote masculinities focused on violence and support gender inequality have an important role in perpetuating violence. However, little is known about the relationship between inequitable gender norms and children’s experiences of violence from parents or other adults in the household.

Utilising data from the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) study, this paper explores how adolescent and household attitudes, as well as community-level gender norms, influence experiences of violence among young adolescents (aged 10–12) in Ethiopia.

Our results show that community norms, rather than adolescent and household attitudes, are significantly associated with experiences of household violence. This result holds for boys and girls, and in rural areas. In urban areas, however, adolescent attitudes were more influential than community norms, perhaps indicating less cohesive communities. Overall, these findings suggest that violence prevention programming should prioritise shifting community norms, particularly in rural areas, in order to promote adolescent girls’ and boys’ right to bodily integrity.

Girl from Afar
Image credit:Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE 2019
Maureen Murphy, Nicola Jones, Workneh Yadete and Sarah Baird