What Factors Contribute to Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in Urban, Conflict-Affected Settings? Qualitative Findings from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
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Rapid urbanization is a key driver of the unique set of health risks facing urban populations. One of the most critical health hazards facing urban women is intimate partner violence (IPV). In post-conflict urban areas, women may face an even greater risk of IPV. Yet, few studies have examined the IPV experiences of urban-dwelling, conflict-affected women, including those who have been internally displaced. This study qualitatively examined the social and structural characteristics of the urban environment that contributed to the IPV experiences of women residing in post-conflict Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Ten focus groups were conducted with men and women, both internally displaced (IDPs) and non-displaced. Lack of support networks, changing gender roles, and tensions between traditional gender norms and those of the “modern” city were reported as key contributors to IPV. Urban poverty and with it unemployment, food insecurity, and housing instability also played a role. Finally, IDPs faced heightened vulnerability to IPV as a result of displacement and discrimination. The relationship between economic strains and IPV are similar to other conflict-affected settings, but Abidjan’s urban environment presented other unique characteristics contributing to IPV. Understanding these factors is crucial to designing appropriate services for women and for implementing IPV reduction interventions in urban areas. Strengthening formal and informal mechanisms for help-seeking, utilizing multi-modal interventions that address economic stress and challenge inequitable gender norms, as well as tailoring programs specifically for IDPs, are some considerations for IPV program planning focused on conflict-affected women in urban areas.
KeywordsGender-based violence Humanitarian crisis Urbanization Domestic violence
Funding for this research was provided by the United States Institute for Peace, grant number USIP-059-12F (PI: J Gupta; Co-PI: K Falb).
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