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Workneh Yadete, December 2020
Ethiopian adolescents’ experiences of age- and gender-based violence:
Evidence from GAGE midline
Outline of Presentation
1
• GAGE overview
2
•GAGE midline findings on bodily integrity and freedom
from age-based violence
3
•GAGE midline findings on child marriage and intimate
partner violence
4
• GAGE midline findings on FGM/C and sexual violence
GAGE Overview
Adolescent girls in East Hararghe, Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams / GAGE 2019
Please note that the photographs of
adolescents DO NOT capture GAGE research
participants and consent was gained from
their guardians for the photographs to be
used for GAGE communications purposes.
Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE):
A longitudinal research programme (2015-2024)
By finding out ‘what works,’ for whom, where
and why, we can better support adolescent girls
and boys to maximise their capabilities now and
in the future.
We are following 20,000 adolescent girls and boys - the largest cohort of
adolescents in the Global South
How GAGE conceptualizes bodily integrity
GAGE longitudinal research sample
GAGE Ethiopia research sites
3 regions:
• Afar, Amhara, Oromia
• plus Dire Dawa City Administration
Research site selection based on:
• Districts with among highest rates of child
marriage as proxy for conservative gender
norms (MOWCA, UNICEF and ODI, 2015)
• Urban and rural sites
• Food insecure and pastoralist sites as a proxy
for economic poverty
• Woreda-based mapping of all kebeles based
on infrastructure and service availability
(vulnerable/ less vulnerable)
• Programming capacities of NGO
implementing partners
Young girl herding cattle, Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams /GAGE 2020
GAGE midline findings on
bodily integrity and freedom
from age-based violence
Adolescents’ experiences of age-based violence
‘If they have committed a mistake I punish
them… I use sticks and a leather strap. Then I
give them a warning not to repeat similar types
of mistakes.’ (father, South Gondar)
‘I beat them when they do not sit properly ... I
also beat them when they do not give a right
answer.’ (teacher, Zone 5, Afar)
‘Once we found an Oromo girl and then we beat her. We knifed her with needles… ‘
(12-year-old girl, Dire Dawa)
Primary school student with his aunt, Oromia, Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams /GAGE 2019
Violence from caregivers
• Nearly half (47%) of adolescents report violence at the hands of their
caregivers in the last year.
• Younger adolescents are more likely to experience physical violence
than older adolescents—because older adolescents run away.
‘I beat the elder girl when she did that… Once, I learned that
she went to see boys. Then I went to the house [where] she
was… I beat her well. She was injured… I took her to the
health facility at Boko because she was injured. I didn’t like
her after that.’
(father, E. Hararghe)
‘He never beats me now, because I am older.’
(18-year-old boy, Zone 5, Afar)
• Caregiver violence is most common in Zone 5—60% of boys have
experienced violence in the last year.
• Boys are more at risk—but girls are beaten not for misbehaving, but
for violating gender norms.
Violence from teachers
 Two-fifths of enrolled adolescents report violence from a teacher in
the last year—with boys and those in E. Haraghe and Zone 5 at
higher risk.
 Younger adolescents are more at risk than older adolescents (46%
vs 30%)—because older adolescents are usually just sent home.
 Adolescents are beaten for misbehavior—and for lack of learning—
and for arriving late because their parents give them chores.
‘The teacher hit on my ear last year, and I became sick…the illness
resulted in partial damage of my hearing.’ (13-year-old boy, S. Gondar)
‘Teachers beat us if we become absent from school… They will
tie our hands like this and then they will beat us using a stick on
our hands.’ (12-year-old girl, Zone 5)
 Violence can be extreme.
 Some families are speaking out against violence.
‘Families started to blame the teachers when their child is
punished in the school.’ (14-year-old boy, Debre Tabor)
Violence from peers
PRESENTATION NAME AND DATE
 Peer violence is most common for boys, for younger
adolescents, and those in urban areas.
 Of rural areas, S. Gondar stands out for the most peer violence
(29%)
 Violence is increasingly life-threatening—and adolescents and
their parents are often terrified.
‘The number of killing incidents has increased… They use
both gunshot and knives to kill one another.’ (12-year-old boy,
S. Gondar)
‘My personal worry is the ethnic violence that has been
observed in our locality over the past few years. I worry
about their [his children’s] safety, that is, for fear of being
exposed to risk or harm.’ (father, Dire Dawa)
‘It doesn’t matter what year they are; students come together in
times of clashes. The seniors gather fresh students, help them and
they attack the others together’.
(19-year-old girl with a physical disability, Debre Tabor)
Recommendations: Parental and peer violence
1
•Develop parenting education classes
that teach techniques for
communicating with and disciplining
adolescents.
2
•Use local role models and mass
media to promote behaviour change
3
•Invest in social workers and social
courts to identify and follow children
experiencing the worst forms of
abuse.
4
•Scale up clubs aimed at improving
communication and fostering
friendships between young people.
5
•Proactively target violent
masculinities.
6
•Using mass and social media and
community meetings, promote
social cohesion and national identity.
Recommendations: Teacher violence
1
• Train teachers in child-friendly pedagogies and positive discipline.
2
• Reduce class sizes.
3
• Provide ways for students to anonymously report violence.
4
• Provide school counselors.
5
• Strengthen PTSAs.
6
• Develop clubs that support adolescent voice and agency.
7
• Sanction repeat offenders.
Adolescent girl, Amhara, Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams /GAGE 2020
GAGE midline findings on child marriage
and intimate partner violence
‘My soul agitated me to get married right way
when I reached puberty... While experiencing
this feeling, I came across a gorgeous girl
and wanted to seize the opportunity to marry
her… We competed with a lot of males for
the girl… The competition was fierce... Our
rivals beat us with stones… I beat them and
married her finally.’
(17-year-old boy, who at 14 married a 12-
year-old girl, East Hararghe)
Child Marriage
South Gondar
Nearly all marriages are arranged, and two-thirds of married girls would have rather married later.
The age of marriage is increasing—
and girls have some space to argue for
delay—but most girls are still married
as children.
‘My first marriage proposal was at the
age of 13 but my father refused as I
was a teenager and then I got married
at age 15.’ (married 17-year-old girl)
Parents’ interest in child marriage is
driven by needs to prevent premarital
sex.
‘We are afraid that they will start a
sexual relationship before marriage.’
(mother of married girl)
Girls often feel they must say ‘yes’ to
their parents—even when they do not
want to marry yet.
‘I would have been cursed and my
parents would feel sad.’ (married 15-
year-old girl)
East Hararghe
• Most adolescents find their own partners and two-thirds of girls are happy with the timing
of their marriage.
• Narratives about girls’ ‘choice’ are more complex than they first appear.
• Some respondents report that child marriage is increasing—and the age of marriage is
declining.
‘Since they are busy with housework they prefer
to get married and work for their own.’
(mother of a married girl)
‘Even by now those who are 10 years old
start to go with boys.’ (13-year-old girl)
‘I ran away with him without informing my parents,
…My interest at the time was to enjoy
shegoye…My parents bought me…a type of
clothing called mamudi (and) traditional bracelets
and necklaces.’
(married 15-year-old girl)
Zone 5
• Nearly all marriages are arranged, and two-thirds of married girls would have rather married later.
• Girls have no say.
‘I cannot refuse. If I refuse the man who was going
to marry me, he would be given permission to take
me by force.’ (17-year-old girl)
‘We have our own peculiar culture and tradition
with regard to marriage practice… It is the
absuma marriage tradition.’
(father of a married girl)
‘[My friends] advised me it is better to kill myself than
get married.’ (20-year-old woman, married at 17)
Intimate partner violence
• 10% of adolescents admitted that they had seen or heard their mother being beaten in the last year
• 27% of boys in Zone 5 admitted to witnessing IPV
• ‘We beat them [wives] when we are annoyed. We also beat them when they refuse to do something
we told them to do… There is no way she will escape if we grab her .’ (father, E. Hararghe)
Is commonly seen by adolescents…
• ‘When I hugged her, she refused and shouted and then tried to leave the room… I forcefully had sex at
first as she refused to do so.’ (19-year-old married to a 12-year-old, S. Gondar)
• ‘I don’t beat [my wife] with something that hurts. I beat her with electric wire.’
( 19-year-old husband, East Hararghe)
• ‘If I go to someone’s home or if I visit my friends, my husband beats me.’
(married 17-year-old, East Hararghe)
And replicated across generations….
Tailor programming to local drivers.
Empower girls with knowledge and skills –developing broader aspirations and strengthening
voice and agency.
Build—and publicise-- reporting mechanisms to have marriages canceled.
Work with parents and communities to shift gender norms that favour child marriage over
education.
Work with traditional and religious leaders to develop messaging.
Step up enforcement and prosecute adults involved in child marriage.
Recommendations: Child marriage
Recommendations: IPV
1
• Use the HEW programme to spread awareness to married girls and women of
when and how to seek help.
2
• Work with religious and traditional leaders to develop messages—for boys and
men—about alternative ways to demonstrate masculinity (rather than violence).
3
• Establish safe house for girls and women experiencing IPV.
4
• Ensure that formal justice mechanism are brought into play—and that
perpetrators face consequences for their actions.
Adolescent domestic worker, Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams /GAGE 2020
GAGE midline
findings on FGM/C
and sexual violence
FGM/C and sexual violence
‘Adolescents would keep silent…they
fear to say anything.’
(14-year-old boy, E. Hararghe)
‘Since I am educated, I refuse to be
mutilated!’
(13-year-old girl, E. Hararghe)
Adolescent girls in urban Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams /GAGE 2020
Female genital mutilation/cutting
 Nearly half (47%) of older girls had been cut—with marked
regional variation.
 Progress in South Gondar is related to:
• Most developed network of HEWs
• Most active Women’s Development Army
• More gender-focused NGOs
• More active school clubs raising awareness
 In E. Hararghe, girls often want to be cut—so they can play
shegoye and fit in with their peers.
‘No one teaches against harmful traditional practices.’
(12-year-old girl, Zone 5)
Sexual violence
 10% of older girls reported having experienced sexual
violence.
 Urban girls (12%) reported more sexual violence than their
rural peers (8%).
 Girls in S. Gondar (15%) reported more sexual violence than
those in East Hararghe (5%) and Zone 5 (4%).
Lanscape in Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams /GAGE 2020
Sexual violence
Leads to school drop out
‘Boys attempted to abduct her [my
friend] twice when she was going
to school… She finished school
because of that.’
(20-year-old woman, Batu)
Is increasing
‘In earlier times, no one was touching a
sadula [unmarried virign]. But now they
can grab a sadula if they get her.’
(16-year-old girl from Zone 5)
Justice is rare
‘Police might be bribed by
defendants to obscure the
evidence… the legal system is now
very loose… criminals are released
without getting the required legal
punishment.’ (KI, Debre Tabor)
Girls have little recourse
‘Girls don’t shout if they are raped
or abducted… that is taboo in the
culture.’ (community KI, Zone 5)
Boys brag about conquests
‘The boys who had intercourse last night,
for example, tell the information to their
friends and it spreads in that manner…
The male partner talks whether he did it
by pushing the girl or with her consent.’
(younger boy, E. Hararghe)
Girls are blamed
‘They will nag her about why she
yielded to the boy.’
(13-year-old boy, S. Gondar)
Recommendations: FGM/C
1
Use HEWs to message to mothers
and schools to message to girls (and
boys) about the heath risks.
2
Work with religious and traditional
leaders to develop messages about
FGM/C and the broader gender
norms that support it.
Picture
Adolescent girl, Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams /GAGE 2019
•Teach girls they have a right to be safe, how to defend themselves, and how to report.
Work with boys and men to target violent masculinities.
Message that girls are not to blame.
Work with elders to pursue formal justice—and enforce the law.
Work with communities to address gender norms.
Establish safe houses.
Provide girls in secondary school with safe lodgings to reduce risk.
Recommendations: Sexual violence
About GAGE
WEBSITE: www.gage.odi.org
TWITTER: @GAGE_programme
FACEBOOK: GenderandAdolescence
 Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence
(GAGE) is a nine-year (2015-2024) mixed-
methods longitudinal research programme
focused on what works to support
adolescent girls’ and boys’ capabilities in the
second decade of life and beyond.
 We are following the lives of 20,000
adolescents in six focal countries in Africa,
Asia and the Middle East.
Download the report:
www.gage.odi.org/publications/

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Ethiopian adolescents’ experiences of age-and gender-based violence: Evidence from GAGE midline

  • 1. Workneh Yadete, December 2020 Ethiopian adolescents’ experiences of age- and gender-based violence: Evidence from GAGE midline
  • 2. Outline of Presentation 1 • GAGE overview 2 •GAGE midline findings on bodily integrity and freedom from age-based violence 3 •GAGE midline findings on child marriage and intimate partner violence 4 • GAGE midline findings on FGM/C and sexual violence
  • 3. GAGE Overview Adolescent girls in East Hararghe, Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams / GAGE 2019 Please note that the photographs of adolescents DO NOT capture GAGE research participants and consent was gained from their guardians for the photographs to be used for GAGE communications purposes.
  • 4. Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE): A longitudinal research programme (2015-2024) By finding out ‘what works,’ for whom, where and why, we can better support adolescent girls and boys to maximise their capabilities now and in the future. We are following 20,000 adolescent girls and boys - the largest cohort of adolescents in the Global South
  • 5. How GAGE conceptualizes bodily integrity
  • 7. GAGE Ethiopia research sites 3 regions: • Afar, Amhara, Oromia • plus Dire Dawa City Administration Research site selection based on: • Districts with among highest rates of child marriage as proxy for conservative gender norms (MOWCA, UNICEF and ODI, 2015) • Urban and rural sites • Food insecure and pastoralist sites as a proxy for economic poverty • Woreda-based mapping of all kebeles based on infrastructure and service availability (vulnerable/ less vulnerable) • Programming capacities of NGO implementing partners
  • 8. Young girl herding cattle, Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams /GAGE 2020 GAGE midline findings on bodily integrity and freedom from age-based violence
  • 9. Adolescents’ experiences of age-based violence ‘If they have committed a mistake I punish them… I use sticks and a leather strap. Then I give them a warning not to repeat similar types of mistakes.’ (father, South Gondar) ‘I beat them when they do not sit properly ... I also beat them when they do not give a right answer.’ (teacher, Zone 5, Afar) ‘Once we found an Oromo girl and then we beat her. We knifed her with needles… ‘ (12-year-old girl, Dire Dawa) Primary school student with his aunt, Oromia, Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams /GAGE 2019
  • 10. Violence from caregivers • Nearly half (47%) of adolescents report violence at the hands of their caregivers in the last year. • Younger adolescents are more likely to experience physical violence than older adolescents—because older adolescents run away. ‘I beat the elder girl when she did that… Once, I learned that she went to see boys. Then I went to the house [where] she was… I beat her well. She was injured… I took her to the health facility at Boko because she was injured. I didn’t like her after that.’ (father, E. Hararghe) ‘He never beats me now, because I am older.’ (18-year-old boy, Zone 5, Afar) • Caregiver violence is most common in Zone 5—60% of boys have experienced violence in the last year. • Boys are more at risk—but girls are beaten not for misbehaving, but for violating gender norms.
  • 11. Violence from teachers  Two-fifths of enrolled adolescents report violence from a teacher in the last year—with boys and those in E. Haraghe and Zone 5 at higher risk.  Younger adolescents are more at risk than older adolescents (46% vs 30%)—because older adolescents are usually just sent home.  Adolescents are beaten for misbehavior—and for lack of learning— and for arriving late because their parents give them chores. ‘The teacher hit on my ear last year, and I became sick…the illness resulted in partial damage of my hearing.’ (13-year-old boy, S. Gondar) ‘Teachers beat us if we become absent from school… They will tie our hands like this and then they will beat us using a stick on our hands.’ (12-year-old girl, Zone 5)  Violence can be extreme.  Some families are speaking out against violence. ‘Families started to blame the teachers when their child is punished in the school.’ (14-year-old boy, Debre Tabor)
  • 12. Violence from peers PRESENTATION NAME AND DATE  Peer violence is most common for boys, for younger adolescents, and those in urban areas.  Of rural areas, S. Gondar stands out for the most peer violence (29%)  Violence is increasingly life-threatening—and adolescents and their parents are often terrified. ‘The number of killing incidents has increased… They use both gunshot and knives to kill one another.’ (12-year-old boy, S. Gondar) ‘My personal worry is the ethnic violence that has been observed in our locality over the past few years. I worry about their [his children’s] safety, that is, for fear of being exposed to risk or harm.’ (father, Dire Dawa) ‘It doesn’t matter what year they are; students come together in times of clashes. The seniors gather fresh students, help them and they attack the others together’. (19-year-old girl with a physical disability, Debre Tabor)
  • 13. Recommendations: Parental and peer violence 1 •Develop parenting education classes that teach techniques for communicating with and disciplining adolescents. 2 •Use local role models and mass media to promote behaviour change 3 •Invest in social workers and social courts to identify and follow children experiencing the worst forms of abuse. 4 •Scale up clubs aimed at improving communication and fostering friendships between young people. 5 •Proactively target violent masculinities. 6 •Using mass and social media and community meetings, promote social cohesion and national identity.
  • 14. Recommendations: Teacher violence 1 • Train teachers in child-friendly pedagogies and positive discipline. 2 • Reduce class sizes. 3 • Provide ways for students to anonymously report violence. 4 • Provide school counselors. 5 • Strengthen PTSAs. 6 • Develop clubs that support adolescent voice and agency. 7 • Sanction repeat offenders.
  • 15. Adolescent girl, Amhara, Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams /GAGE 2020 GAGE midline findings on child marriage and intimate partner violence
  • 16. ‘My soul agitated me to get married right way when I reached puberty... While experiencing this feeling, I came across a gorgeous girl and wanted to seize the opportunity to marry her… We competed with a lot of males for the girl… The competition was fierce... Our rivals beat us with stones… I beat them and married her finally.’ (17-year-old boy, who at 14 married a 12- year-old girl, East Hararghe) Child Marriage
  • 17. South Gondar Nearly all marriages are arranged, and two-thirds of married girls would have rather married later. The age of marriage is increasing— and girls have some space to argue for delay—but most girls are still married as children. ‘My first marriage proposal was at the age of 13 but my father refused as I was a teenager and then I got married at age 15.’ (married 17-year-old girl) Parents’ interest in child marriage is driven by needs to prevent premarital sex. ‘We are afraid that they will start a sexual relationship before marriage.’ (mother of married girl) Girls often feel they must say ‘yes’ to their parents—even when they do not want to marry yet. ‘I would have been cursed and my parents would feel sad.’ (married 15- year-old girl)
  • 18. East Hararghe • Most adolescents find their own partners and two-thirds of girls are happy with the timing of their marriage. • Narratives about girls’ ‘choice’ are more complex than they first appear. • Some respondents report that child marriage is increasing—and the age of marriage is declining. ‘Since they are busy with housework they prefer to get married and work for their own.’ (mother of a married girl) ‘Even by now those who are 10 years old start to go with boys.’ (13-year-old girl) ‘I ran away with him without informing my parents, …My interest at the time was to enjoy shegoye…My parents bought me…a type of clothing called mamudi (and) traditional bracelets and necklaces.’ (married 15-year-old girl)
  • 19. Zone 5 • Nearly all marriages are arranged, and two-thirds of married girls would have rather married later. • Girls have no say. ‘I cannot refuse. If I refuse the man who was going to marry me, he would be given permission to take me by force.’ (17-year-old girl) ‘We have our own peculiar culture and tradition with regard to marriage practice… It is the absuma marriage tradition.’ (father of a married girl) ‘[My friends] advised me it is better to kill myself than get married.’ (20-year-old woman, married at 17)
  • 20. Intimate partner violence • 10% of adolescents admitted that they had seen or heard their mother being beaten in the last year • 27% of boys in Zone 5 admitted to witnessing IPV • ‘We beat them [wives] when we are annoyed. We also beat them when they refuse to do something we told them to do… There is no way she will escape if we grab her .’ (father, E. Hararghe) Is commonly seen by adolescents… • ‘When I hugged her, she refused and shouted and then tried to leave the room… I forcefully had sex at first as she refused to do so.’ (19-year-old married to a 12-year-old, S. Gondar) • ‘I don’t beat [my wife] with something that hurts. I beat her with electric wire.’ ( 19-year-old husband, East Hararghe) • ‘If I go to someone’s home or if I visit my friends, my husband beats me.’ (married 17-year-old, East Hararghe) And replicated across generations….
  • 21. Tailor programming to local drivers. Empower girls with knowledge and skills –developing broader aspirations and strengthening voice and agency. Build—and publicise-- reporting mechanisms to have marriages canceled. Work with parents and communities to shift gender norms that favour child marriage over education. Work with traditional and religious leaders to develop messaging. Step up enforcement and prosecute adults involved in child marriage. Recommendations: Child marriage
  • 22. Recommendations: IPV 1 • Use the HEW programme to spread awareness to married girls and women of when and how to seek help. 2 • Work with religious and traditional leaders to develop messages—for boys and men—about alternative ways to demonstrate masculinity (rather than violence). 3 • Establish safe house for girls and women experiencing IPV. 4 • Ensure that formal justice mechanism are brought into play—and that perpetrators face consequences for their actions.
  • 23. Adolescent domestic worker, Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams /GAGE 2020 GAGE midline findings on FGM/C and sexual violence
  • 24. FGM/C and sexual violence ‘Adolescents would keep silent…they fear to say anything.’ (14-year-old boy, E. Hararghe) ‘Since I am educated, I refuse to be mutilated!’ (13-year-old girl, E. Hararghe) Adolescent girls in urban Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams /GAGE 2020
  • 25. Female genital mutilation/cutting  Nearly half (47%) of older girls had been cut—with marked regional variation.  Progress in South Gondar is related to: • Most developed network of HEWs • Most active Women’s Development Army • More gender-focused NGOs • More active school clubs raising awareness  In E. Hararghe, girls often want to be cut—so they can play shegoye and fit in with their peers. ‘No one teaches against harmful traditional practices.’ (12-year-old girl, Zone 5)
  • 26. Sexual violence  10% of older girls reported having experienced sexual violence.  Urban girls (12%) reported more sexual violence than their rural peers (8%).  Girls in S. Gondar (15%) reported more sexual violence than those in East Hararghe (5%) and Zone 5 (4%). Lanscape in Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams /GAGE 2020
  • 27. Sexual violence Leads to school drop out ‘Boys attempted to abduct her [my friend] twice when she was going to school… She finished school because of that.’ (20-year-old woman, Batu) Is increasing ‘In earlier times, no one was touching a sadula [unmarried virign]. But now they can grab a sadula if they get her.’ (16-year-old girl from Zone 5) Justice is rare ‘Police might be bribed by defendants to obscure the evidence… the legal system is now very loose… criminals are released without getting the required legal punishment.’ (KI, Debre Tabor) Girls have little recourse ‘Girls don’t shout if they are raped or abducted… that is taboo in the culture.’ (community KI, Zone 5) Boys brag about conquests ‘The boys who had intercourse last night, for example, tell the information to their friends and it spreads in that manner… The male partner talks whether he did it by pushing the girl or with her consent.’ (younger boy, E. Hararghe) Girls are blamed ‘They will nag her about why she yielded to the boy.’ (13-year-old boy, S. Gondar)
  • 28. Recommendations: FGM/C 1 Use HEWs to message to mothers and schools to message to girls (and boys) about the heath risks. 2 Work with religious and traditional leaders to develop messages about FGM/C and the broader gender norms that support it. Picture Adolescent girl, Ethiopia © Nathalie Bertrams /GAGE 2019
  • 29. •Teach girls they have a right to be safe, how to defend themselves, and how to report. Work with boys and men to target violent masculinities. Message that girls are not to blame. Work with elders to pursue formal justice—and enforce the law. Work with communities to address gender norms. Establish safe houses. Provide girls in secondary school with safe lodgings to reduce risk. Recommendations: Sexual violence
  • 30. About GAGE WEBSITE: www.gage.odi.org TWITTER: @GAGE_programme FACEBOOK: GenderandAdolescence  Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) is a nine-year (2015-2024) mixed- methods longitudinal research programme focused on what works to support adolescent girls’ and boys’ capabilities in the second decade of life and beyond.  We are following the lives of 20,000 adolescents in six focal countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Download the report: www.gage.odi.org/publications/

Editor's Notes

  1. Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) is a nine-year (2015-2024) mixed-methods longitudinal research programme exploring the gendered experiences of young people aged 10-19 years. GAGE aims to generate new evidence on ‘what works’ to transform the lives of adolescent girls and boys to enable them to move out of poverty and exclusion, and fast-track social change.
  2. While GAGE’s conceptual framework examines adolescents’ experiences and needs across 6 domains—including not only bodily integrity and freedom from violence, but education and learning, health and nutrition, psychosocial wellbeing, voice and agency, and economic empowerment—in this presentation we focus on bodily integrity and freedom from violence. We discuss: Protection from age-based violence, including corporal punishment at the hands of caregivers and teachers as well as bullying Protection from child and forced marriage Protection from sexual and gender-based violence Protection from FGM/C and other HTPs
  3. In Ethiopia, GAGE has completed midline data collection. We are following two cohorts—a younger and an older—comprising 7,500 young people. At the time of midline data collection, the younger cohort was between the ages of 12 and 14. The older cohort was between the ages of 17 and 19. We are using mixed methods and in addition to our surveys with adolescents and their caregivers, have completed individual and group interviews with hundreds of adolescents, caregivers, community members, and service providers.
  4. In Ethiopia, we are working in three rural locations: South Gondar, Amhara East Hararghe, Oromia Zone 5, Afar We are also working in three urban locations: Debre Tabor Batu/Ziway Dire Dawa
  5. Respondents in our work emphasized that age-based violence- from parents, teachers, and peers- is not only common but expected. Parents and teachers believe that they must use violence to control children’s behavior—and to teach them “right” from “wrong”-even when what children are doing is not actually misbehaving. Young people also spoke of significant violence between one another—most was typical bullying, but as violence has spread across parts of Ethiopia, some was extreme and life-threatening.
  6. Nearly half of the adolescents in our sample reported that they had experienced violence from a caregiver in the last year. Younger adolescents are more likely to experience physical violence than older adolescents, because older adolescents can run away—and might fight back. Boys are more at risk of violence than girls, in large part respondents agree because they are less well behaved. Girls in our sample often noted that they do everything their parents ask. Parents observed this is far less true for boys, whom they often see as “uncontrollable”. Boys are especially likely to be hit compared to girls. In our sample one third of boys had been hit by a caregiver in the last year, compared to one fifth of girls. When girls experience physical violence—it tends to be because they have violated a gender norm, such as speaking to boys. Girls often noted that they would rather be hit than be insulted. Caregiver violence is most common in Zone 5—where violence is often valorized because it proves strength.
  7. Violence from teachers mirrors violence from caregivers—with younger adolescents and boys at higher risk. Across our sample, two-fifths of adolescents report having experienced corporal punishment at school in the last year: one in two boys and one in three girls. Respondents again agreed that boys are more likely to be punished than girls because they are less well behaved. Young people reported that they are beaten not only for misbehaving, but also for being late to school—because their parents demand that they do chores—and for making academic mistakes. Violence can be extreme. While some young people report that they are “only” forced to kneel for hours, other report that they are beaten with sticks and pipes and have their heads slammed into walls. A few adolescents report broken bones and permanent disability due to teacher violence. Older adolescents are less at risk of teacher violence than younger adolescents for several reasons. First, teachers are more likely to simply send them home, rather than punish them at school . Second, esp in rural areas, teachers are afraid of boys. Some fight back. Violence in urban areas is relatively muted compared to rural areas—in part because teachers use different techniques for controlling classrooms, but in part because parents and students understand that violence is not acceptable and seek redress from principals for teachers who hurt students. Students in S. Gondar report far less teacher violence than their peers in E. Hararghe and Zone 5, again in part because students and parents are more aware of their rights.
  8. Peer violence is again most common for boys and younger adolescents—but stands out for being more common in urban areas and in South Gondar. Of younger urban boys, half have experienced peer violence in the last year—significantly more than younger urban girls, younger rural boys, or older urban boys. At baseline, most of the peer violence that adolescents reported was “typical” bullying—adolescents, mostly boys, fighting over grazing rights or fighting over girls or fighting just to feel powerful. At midline, things were markedly different. Peer violence often had ethnic overtones and was increasingly so extreme that it could rightly be considered life threatening. Adolescents in urban areas and in S. Gondar reported that knife and gun violence was resulting in injury and death and many were terrified to leave home. Adolescents added that violence had infiltrated some schools—and that groups of adolescents sometimes fought on campus. Some young people studying at university had been forced to drop out and flee home.
  9. Parental violence To tackle parents’ use of corporal punishment, it will be important to invest in discussions through schools and community conversations to support parents to learn about positive disciplinary approaches and adolescent–parent communication. Promoting successful local families as role models could help make these discussions feel real. Simultaneously, there is a need to invest in and train a cadre of social workers to identify and address the worst forms of parental violence and to strengthen legal institutions such as social courts and community police to identify and address the worst forms of parental violence. Such efforts could also be complemented by behavioural change communication through the media with regard to positive disciplinary approaches and parenting. Peer violence To combat peer violence, investments in school-and community based adolescent empowerment programming are urgently needed. Interventions should aim to foster friendships and promote collaboration, positive communication, and negotiation skills – while simultaneously proactively addressing peer violence in the community and how to reduce and report it. Programme curricula should tackle violent masculinities and promote inter-ethnic and inter-religious relationships within schools and other non-formal education settings. Furthermore, peer-to-peer education within communities and schools can promote discussions among adolescents, including how to reduce peer violence.
  10. Teacher violence To eradicate teachers’ use of corporal punishment, there is an urgent need to step up efforts to train teachers in child-friendly pedagogies and positive disciplinary approaches in line with Ministry of Education guidance against the use of corporal punishment. Simultaneously work to reduce class sizes to a more manageable level. Such efforts need to be complemented with strengthened Parent- Teacher-Student Associations (to contribute to discussions about positive discipline approaches), improved access to school counsellors (who can support both students and teachers to resolve conflicts), investments in accountability mechanisms (including establishing reporting boxes for students to hold teachers accountable for violating formal bans on violent disciplinary approaches), and improved enforcement and follow-up (to ensure that repeat offenders are sanctioned in order to dismantle the current culture where violence is widely tolerated). In addition, strengthening school-based strutures such as school clubs and school parliaments can help to improve students’ voices and agency including speaking up against corporal punishment within the school system.
  11. Our midline findings underscored how complex child marriage is in Ethiopia. While about half of older girls had been married by age 18—across all three regions—girls were married in different ways, at different ages, and for different reasons. We will discuss these in turn. In our sample, child marriage was also not uncommon for rural boys. 13% of older rural boys had married before 18--almost entirely because they saw marriage as a way to demonstrate their adult status to their peers, their families, and their broader communities.
  12. Amhara—despite the fact that 59% of older girls in our sample had married as children—has seen the most progress. While most families still arrange marriages for their daughters before adulthood, primarily to ensure that sex takes place in marriage, the age at which girls marry has been steadily increasing as families commit to educating their daughters and teachers and local leaders work to cancel planned marriages. Girls are hoping for more progress. Two-thirds of married girls would have rather waited even longer to marry. Girls who are married before 15—which is still one quarter of the girls in our sample—are the most likely to have wanted to wait. Many are still forced into marriage, often with little warning, to men they have never met. Even girls who admit that their marriages are voluntary often then add that they did not really feel they had an option other than saying “yes”. Their parents expect obedience.
  13. In East Hararghe, where 50% of older girls in our sample had married as children- most girls were happy to have married when they did. Respondents reported that this is because girls marry whom—and when—they choose, often over their parents’ objections. The short story of child marriage in E. Hararghe is that most girls marry boys (or young men) that they meet while playing shegoye. The longer story is more complex. Girls are often forced into playing shegoye, by boys who beat them if they refuse. Girls encourage one another to play-taunting and socially isolating those who try to sit out. They are supported to play shegoye by parents who buy them the clothes they need to participate. They are incentivized to marry by parents who do not support them to attend school and instead burden them with hours and hours of chores each day. Quite a few respondents in E. Hararghe reported that child marriage is becoming more common and that the age of marriage has been dropping in recent years. Our sample includes several girls who married at age 10. Parents—even those who do genuinely seem opposed to their daughters’ marriages—added that they had no recourse. Once their daughter had run off with a male, even if she was only 10, marriage was the only option.
  14. In Zone 5, the absuma system has resulted in near stasis. Girls must marry maternal cousins and must do so when they are told to do so. Girls have no space for dissent—unless they are prepared to flee. Girls reported that it is increasingly common for grooms to set guards on engaged girls—to keep them from fleeing—and that attempted suicide is not uncommon. Married girls reported very little outside support to delay marriage. Few girls are still in school at the time of marriage—and for those who are, teachers are largely afraid to intervene given how strongly attached to the absuma system local adults are.
  15. Intimate partner violence is common in the families in GAGE’s sample—it starts with parents and cascades across generations. Despite the fact that it is seen as private and taboo to discuss, 10% of the adolescents in our sample admitted that they had seen or heard their mothers being beaten in the last year. Boys were more likely to admit to this than girls—and those in Zone 5 especially so. Over a quarter of boys in Zone 5 admitted to having witnessed their mothers being beaten. Many husbands—whether they are the fathers of adolescents or the husbands of child brides—freely admitted to using violence to control their wives. They admitted to rape. They admitted to physical violence. They emphasized that violence and control over their wives is their right. Married girls often reported considerable fear of their husbands. Some were afraid to leave home, even to visit their parents, others were afraid that they would lose valuable livestock or fail to fall pregnant fast enough. While girls in S. Gondar and E. Hararghe reported that divorce was a possibility, girls in Zone 5 stated that they had no recourse at all.
  16. Adopt a multi-pronged strategy to step up school- and community-based awareness raising about the negative health, educational, economic and social impacts of child marriage, making sure to tailor messages to local drivers. Invest in empowerment programming (targeting arranged marriages, abduction and ‘adolescent-initiated’ marriages, depending on the local context. Strengthen reporting chains at school. To tackle the limited knowledge of girls about reporting options, it is critical to provide tailored outreach to girls, especially in rural areas, about how they can report risks of child marriage and other forms of age- and gender-based violence. For in-school girls, it is important to strengthen girls and gender clubs which are critical mechanisms for reporting arranged and proposed child marriages. Work with adolescent boys and young men, parents and religious leaders to shift discriminatory gender norms, including around delaying the age of marriage. In pastoralist communities like Afar, it is important to work with elders, clan leaders and religious leaders on how to shift the tradition of absuma marriage system so that girls may have an option not only to delay their marriage but also to choose their marriage partner. At the same time, it is important for NGOs, researchers and other concerned bodies to advocate with the Afar regional government to accept the national legal age for marriage of 18, rather than 16 years as is currently the case.
  17. Respondents in our research emphasised that that sexual violence against girls—whether it be FGM/C or rape—is perpetuated by gender norms that encourage boys and men to feel as if they have a right to girls’ and women’s bodies—and girls and women to stay silent. That said, girls and women also work to uphold these gender norms, by actively policing each other.
  18. Like the most recent DHS, our survey found that nearly half of girls had been cut Location matters. In urban areas, 29% of girls had been cut. In South Gondar, the rate was 23%. In East Hararghe, the rate was 89%. In Zone 5, the rate was 85%. The age at which girls are cut also varies by location. In South Gondar and Zone 5, girls are cut in infancy—usually around their first birthdays. In East Hararghe, girls are cut at an average age of 9. Most location differences are related to cultural differences. Progress in Amhara, however, is also related to how hard regional leaders have worked to discourage the practice. In South Gondar, most girls reported hearing lessons about FGM/C in school—usually related to poor maternal and child health outcomes. Mothers reported messaging from HEWs, Women’s Associations, 1:5 groups, and NGOs. This was not the case in E. Hararghe and Zone 5. Girls in those locations were quite likely to note that they had NEVER heard that FGM/C was dangerous. Observations about incidence, however, and how it varies by location and over time, is only half the story about FGM/C. We also found that the practice is held in place by mothers and other adult women who see cutting as a way to make female bodies “cleaner”, ensure that girls will not get sexually out of control in adolescence, and make it easier for men to have sex. Indeed, these beliefs are so powerful that in E. Hararghe, it was not uncommon for girls to report that they WANTED to be cut—because it is a way for them to demonstrate to the community that they are growing up.
  19. Of the older girls in our sample, 10% reported that they had experienced sexual violence. Sexual violence was most commonly reported in urban areas (12%) and in South Gondar (15%). We have reasons to suspect significant under-reporting, esp in E. Hararghe and Zone 5, where sexual violence is less likely to be perpetrated by strangers and more likely to be perpetrated by peers in the context of cultural dances such as shegoye and sadah. Our survey lends credence to this, as it found that young people are very likely to believe that girls should be blamed if they are raped.
  20. Respondents, esp in urban areas and S. Gondar, emphasized that sexual violence is a common reason that girls are not allowed by their parents to attend secondary school, because they are afraid that girls will be raped as they travel to and from school or while they live in rented lodgings in town. They also noted that it leads to girls dropping out of secondary school, because many girls are repeatedly attacked. Given that girls are often blamed for being assaulted, and are indeed sometimes forced to marry their rapists, girls go out of their way to stay safe—even when it means giving up their dreams. In East Hararghe, boys bragged about raping girls at shegoye—secure in the knowledge that girls will tell no one because of the widespread belief that girls are freely choosing to participate in shegoye. Indeed, girls sometimes reported that they were raped by multiple boys and men—and yet continued to participate because they were more afraid of being beaten and ostracized if they sat out. In Zone 5, girls noted that while rape used to be quite rare, it has increased in recent years—with boys and young men more brazenly abducting and raping pubescent girls who have not yet married. Adults added that while boys might be breaking the “rules”—girls are not. Girls are still expected to be silent when they are raped. Across locations, respondents highlighted that girls who are assaulted can count on very little support. They are often blamed by their parents and communities and are regularly forced to settle for mediation that sees their family honour restored—rather than justice.
  21. FGM/C To tackle FGM/ C it is critical to expand the reach of health extension workers and messaging about the health consequences of FGM/C. There is also a need to work with religious leaders and through parenting classes to shift harmful gender norms at the community level. In localities where FGM/C is carried out soon after birth or in early childhood, engaging with mothers is critical, while in areas when cutting takes place during adolescence or nearer to marriage age, it is essential to engage with adolescent girls and boys themselves about the risks of the practice and how to report it. Finally, schools can also provide an important entry point to provide contextualised messaging, including around the risks of shegoye and sadah, both of which necessitate female circumcision for girls’ participation.
  22. To tackle gender-based violence in the community, it is important to invest in tailored empowerment and safe space programming for adolescent girls (married and unmarried) that includes messaging on girls’ rights to bodily integrity (including also verbal sexual harassment), self-defence skills and knowledge of reporting processes. Such programming should be complemented by programming for and with adolescent boys and young men on positive masculinities. There is simultaneously a need to work with parents and communities to avoid blaming girls who are assaulted, and – as part of efforts to tailor curricula and messaging to specific localities – to address violence that occurs as part of adolescent-only cultural dances (shegoye in East Hararghe and sadah in Afar) as appropriate. • At the enabling environment level, there is a need to prioritise scaled-up investments in district-level law enforcement and prosecution in line with national strategies and laws. It is important to simultaneously work with elders (given that customary arbitration mechanisms are widely used) and to address discriminatory gender norms, and promote adherence to formal justice approaches, especially in rural communities. • Efforts should also be made to ensure that shelter houses are available in each district and that such facilities are welcoming not only of adult women, but also adolescent girls, especially those who face sexual violence. • In remote rural communities it is vital to work with student-teacher-parent associations to combat sexual violence that may happen in, near or on the way to schools. • Simultaneousely, both government and NGOs should consider providing school stipends to support the secondary education of girls from vulnerable households so that they can stay in rented rooms near schools so as to reduce the risk of sexual violence