Journal Article

Community-level correlates of physical violence against unmarried female adolescents in Bangladesh

Background
While the majority of research in Bangladesh has focused on intimate partner violence (IPV) against women, less is known about the correlates of physical violence against unmarried female adolescents, particularly community-level characteristics that may increase their risk of experiencing violence.

Methods
We used multilevel logistic regression analysis to assess the variability in physical violence against unmarried female adolescents at the community level and to explore the role of community-level characteristics in explaining this variability. The data for this analysis were taken from a 2005 nationally representative survey of 20,000 adolescents aged 10 to 24 living in Bangladesh. Data from 4,370 unmarried female adolescents were included in the final model.

Results
Communities in Bangladesh have, on average, high levels of physical violence against unmarried female adolescents, and these levels vary widely across communities. Community-level acceptance of physical punishment against adolescents was related to unmarried female adolescents’ risk of experiencing physical violence.

Conclusions
It is important to find and target communities in which unmarried adolescent girls are at higher risk of experiencing physical violence. Programs and policies must focus specifically on changing attitudes regarding treatment of women and girls. As these attitudes accepting of physical violence are found in adolescents aged 10 to 19, school and community-based programs should particularly target this age group.