Consequences of gender-based violence on female high school students in eastern Ethiopia

Addisu S. Beyene, Catherine L. Chojenta, Deborah J. Loxton


Gender-based violence (GBV) is a significant global public health problem and adversely impacts the physical and mental health of women. This study aimed to determine the consequences of GBV (including sexual, physical, emotional, and overall GBV) on female high school students in eastern Ethiopia. An institutional-based cross-sectional survey was conducted among 1,199 female high school students in eastern Ethiopia using a self-administered questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were calculated. Chi-square tests were used to analyse the data. This study revealed that more than half (55%) of the study participants had experienced any type of GBV during their lifetime. There were statistically significant differences between the educational status and childhood residence of participants who experienced and participants who did not experience sexual violence, physical violence, emotional violence, and any type of GBV in their lifetime (p<0.001). Students who had experienced sexual violence during their lifetime reported consequences of physical health, including swelling around genitalia (33.7%), unusual vaginal discharge (30.7%), and injury around the genitalia (23.9%). Mental health consequences included self-blame (35.7%), and anxiety (23.3%). Educational consequences included poor school performance (36.1%), absenteeism (34.6%), and dropout (28.9%). Students who had experienced any type of GBV during their lifetime reported consequences of physical violence, including poor school performance (18.7%), and withdrawal from school (9.0%). The main perpetrators of any type of GBV were reported to be family members, students, or boyfriends/husbands. GBV is a severe public health problem among female high school students. Primary and secondary prevention is vital to curb the consequences of GBV. (Afr J Reprod Health 2021; 25[4]:22-33).

Full Text:



United Nations. Secretary-general’s in-depth study on violence against women. United Nations General Assembly, 61st Session: Advancement of Wome: Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2006.

World Health Organization. WHO multi-country study on women's health and domestic violence against women: summary report of initial results on prevalence, health outcomes and women's responses. 2005

Garcia-Moreno C, Heise L, Jansen HA, Ellsberg M and Watts C. Violence against women. Science 2005;310(5752):1282-83.

Garcia-Moreno C, Jansen HA, Ellsberg M, Heise L and Watts CH. Prevalence of intimate partner violence: findings from the WHO multi-country study on women's health and domestic violence. The Lancet 2006;368(9543):1260-69.

Hillis S, Mercy J, Amobi A and Kress H. Global prevalence of past-year violence against children: a systematic review and minimum estimates. Pediatrics 2016;137(3):e20154079.

Brown DW, Riley L, Butchart A, Meddings DR, Kann L and Harvey AP. Exposure to physical and sexual violence and adverse health behaviours in African children: results from the Global School-based Student Health Survey. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2009;87(6):447-55.

Hindin MJ and Adair LS. Who's at risk? Factors associated with intimate partner violence in the Philippines. Social Science & Medicine 2002;55(8):1385-99.

Meinck F, Cluver L, Boyes M and Mhlongo E. Risk and protective factors for physical and sexual abuse of children and adolescents in Africa: A review and implications for practice. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse 2015;16(1):81-107.

Ellsberg M and Heise L. Researching violence against women: A practical guide for researchers and activists. 2005

Fulu E. Violence against women and girls. GSDRC Professional Development Reading Pack no. 32. . Birmingham, UK: University of Birmingham., 2016.

Pinheiro PS. UN Secretary-General’s study on violence against children. 2006

United Nations Secretary-General. In-depth study on all forms of violence against women: Report of the Secretary General: UN 2006.

Duvvury N, Carney P and Minh NH. Estimating the cost of domestic violence against women in Viet Nam: UN Women Viet Nam 2012.

Chisholm D, Sweeny K, Sheehan P, Rasmussen B, Smit F, Cuijpers P and Saxena S. Scaling-up treatment of depression and anxiety: a global return on investment analysis. The Lancet Psychiatry 2016;3(5):415-24.

Christofides NJ, Jewkes RK, Dunkle KL, McCarty F, Shai NJ, Nduna M and Sterk C. Risk factors for unplanned and unwanted teenage pregnancies occurring over two years of follow-up among a cohort of young South African women. Global health action 2014;7(1):23719.

McRae S. Returning to work after childbirth: opportunities and inequalities. European sociological review 1993;9(2):125-38.

UNGEI. Transformimg policy and practice for gender in education; A gender review of 2010 EFA global monitoring report, technical paper. New york, 2010.

UNGEI. End School-related Gender-based Violence (SRGBV) 2014 [

School violence; another burden facing the girl child; 2003. Presented at the Second South African Gender Based Violence and Health Conference Johannesburg South Africa May 9

Demise A, Shinebaum R and Melesse K. The problems of female students at Jimma University, Ethiopia, with some suggested solutions. Ethiopian Journal of Health Development 2002;16(3):257-66. doi:

UNFPA and WAVE. Strengthening Health System Responses to Genderbased Violence in Eastern Europe and Central Asia A Resource Package, 2014.

Worku A and Addisie M. Sexual violence among female high school students in Debark, northwest Ethiopia. East African medical journal 2002;79(2):96-99. doi:

Dibaba Y. Sexual violence against female youth in Jimma town: Prevalence, risk factors and consequences. Ethiop J Health Sci 2007;17(1):47-58.

Mulugeta E, Kassaye M and Berhane Y. Prevalence and outcomes of sexual violence among high school students. Ethiopian Medical Journal 1998;36(3):167-74.

Dereje W, Abebe G and Jayalakshmi S. Child sexual abuse and its outcomes among high school students in southwest Ethiopia. Tropical doctor 2006;36(3): 137-40.

Tantu T, Wolka S, Gunta M, Teshome M, Mohammed H and Duko B. Prevalence and determinants of gender-based violence among high school female students in Wolaita Sodo, Ethiopia: an institutionally based cross-sectional study. BMC public health 2020;20: 1-9.

Gelaye B, Arnold D, Williams M, Goshu M and Berhane Y. Depressive symptoms among female college students experiencing gender-based violence in Awassa, Ethiopia. Journal of interpersonal violence 2009;24(3):464-81.

Straus MA, Hamby SL, Boney-McCoy S and Sugarman DB. The revised conflict tactics scales (CTS2) development and preliminary psychometric data. Journal of family issues 1996;17(3):283-316. doi:

Central Statistical Agency (CSA) Ethiopia and ICF Macro. Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,Calverton, Maryland, US: Central Statistical Agency and ICF, 2016.

Philpart M, Goshu M, Gelaye B, Williams M and Berhane Y. Prevalence and risk factors of gender-based violence committed by male college students in Awassa, Ethiopia. Violence and Victims 2009;24(1):122-36. doi:

Abeya SG, Afework MF and Yalew AW. Intimate partner violence against women in western Ethiopia: prevalence, patterns, and associated factors. BMC public health 2011;11(1):913.

Arnold D, Gelaye B, Goshu M, Berhane Y and Williams M. Prevalence and risk factors of gender-based violence among female college students in Awassa, Ethiopia. Violence and victims 2008;23(6):787-800. doi:

Krug EG, Mercy JA, Dahlberg LL and Zwi AB. The world report on violence and health. The lancet 2002;360(9339):1083-88.

Mekuria A, Nigussie A and Abera M. Childhood sexual abuse experiences and its associated factors among adolescent female high school students in Arbaminch town, Gammo Goffa zone, Southern Ethiopia: a mixed method study. BMC international health and human rights 2015;15(1):21.

Tora A. Assessment of sexual violence against female students in Wolaita Sodo University, Southern Ethiopia. Journal of interpersonal violence 2013;28(11):2351-67.

Muche AA, Adekunle AO and Arowojolu AO. Gender-based violence among married women in Debre Tabor town, northwest Ethiopia: A qualitative study. African journal of reproductive health 2017;21(4):102-09.

Gossaye Y, Deyessa N, Berhane Y, Ellsberg M, Emmelin M, Ashenafi M and Hogberg U. Women’s health and life events study in rural Ethiopia. Ethiopian Journal of Health Development 2003;17(Second Special Issue):1-49. doi:

Worku D, Gebremariam A and Jayalakshmi S. Child sexual abuse and its outcomes among high school students in southwest Ethiopia. Tropical doctor 2006;36(3):137-40.

Heise L and Garcia-Moreno C. Violence by intimate partners. 2002

Fulu E. Violence against women and girls. GSDRC Professional Development Reading Pack no. 32. . Birmingham, UK: University of Birmingham., 2016.

World Health Organization. Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence: World Health Organization 2013.

World Health Organization. School-based violence

prevention: a practical handbook. WHO:Geneva, Switzerland2019.

World Health Organization. INSPIRE handbook: action for implementing the seven strategies for ending violence against children. WHO:Geneva, Switzerland,: World Health Organization 2019.

World Health Organization. RESPECT-seven strategies to prevent violence against women: key messages. WHO: Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2019.

Ellsberg M, Heise L, Pena R, Agurto S and Winkvist A. Researching domestic violence against women: methodological and ethical considerations. Studies in family planning 2001;32(1):1-16.


  • There are currently no refbacks.