Sri Lanka

A mediation analysis of the role of girl child marriage in the relationship between proximity to conflict and past-year intimate partner violence in post-conflict Sri Lanka

Attachments

Ruvani W. Fonseka, Lotus McDougal, Anita Raj, Elizabeth Reed, Rebecka Lundgren, Lianne Urada & Jay G. Silverman

Abstract

Background

Studies from many contexts indicate that proximity to conflict is associated with increased likelihood of intimate partner violence (IPV), and girl child marriage is associated with both proximity to conflict and increased IPV. In this study, we consider whether girl child marriage acts as a mediator of the association between proximity to conflict and IPV in the context of Sri Lanka, which sustained long-term conflict until 2009.

Methods

We analyzed responses of currently partnered women between ages 18 and 49 in the 2016 Sri Lankan Demographic and Health Survey (N = 13,691). Using logistic regression analyses, we measured associations between proximity to conflict (residence in districts which were central, proximal, or distal to the regions where the war occurred) and the outcomes of IPV and girl child marriage, and secondarily assessed girl child marriage as a possible mediator of the association between proximity to conflict and past year IPV.

Results

Women residing in districts central to conflict, as compared to districts distal to conflict, had increased odds of past year sexual, physical, and emotional IPV, with the odds of sexual IPV increasing the most (adjusted odds ratio/aOR 4.19, 95% confidence interval/CI 2.08–8.41). Residing in districts proximal to conflict compared to those distal to conflict was associated with lower odds of past year physical and emotional IPV, with the greatest decrease in emotional IPV (aOR 0.31, CI 0.18–0.54). Girl child marriage was more likely in districts central to conflict as opposed to those distal to conflict (aOR 1.89, CI 1.22–2.93), and partially mediated the relationship between centrality to conflict and IPV.

Conclusions

Our findings demonstrate that residing in districts central to conflict compared to those distal to conflict is associated with greater odds of IPV and girl child marriage in post-conflict Sri Lanka, with girl child marriage partially mediating the association between centrality to conflict and IPV. Residence in districts proximal to conflict appears protective against IPV. Future research should investigate what factors are responsible for decreased IPV in districts proximal to violence, and whether these factors can be reproduced to mitigate the increased prevalence of IPV in districts central to conflict.