Does Keeping Adolescent Girls in School Protect Against Sexual Violence? Quasi-Experimental Evidence From East and Southern Africa

Julia Andrea Behrman*, Amber Peterman, Tia Palermo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose We examine the relationship between educational attainment in adolescence on young women's lifetime experience of sexual violence in Malawi and Uganda. Methods Exposure to Universal Primary Education policies in the mid-1990s serves as a natural experiment to estimate the causal effect of schooling on women's subsequent experience of sexual violence using an instrumented regression discontinuity design and Demographic and Health Survey data. Results We find a one-year increase in grade attainment leads to a nine-percentage point reduction (p < .05) in the probability of ever experiencing sexual violence in a sample of 1,028 Ugandan women (aged 18–29 years), an estimate which is considerably larger than observational estimates. We find no effect of grade attainment on ever experiencing sexual violence among a sample of 4,413 Malawian women (aged 19–31 years). In addition, we find no relationship between grade attainment and 12-month sexual violence in either country. Analysis of pathways indicates increased grade attainment increases literacy and experience of premarital sex in Malawi and reduces the probability of ever being married in both countries. Conclusions Keeping girls in school results in a number of benefits for young women; however, protects against lifetime experience of sexual violence only in Uganda. It is possible that overall higher grade attainment, particularly at secondary school levels is driving this effect in Uganda. More research on this relationship is needed, as well as on effective interventions, particularly those which can be taken to scale related to enhancing the quality and quantity of education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-190
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume60
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

Keywords

  • Africa
  • Education
  • Malawi
  • Prevention
  • Sexual violence
  • Uganda

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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