Prevalence and Health Impact of Intimate Partner Violence and Non-partner Sexual Violence Among Female Adolescents Aged 15-19 Years in Vulnerable Urban Environments: A Multi-Country Study

J Adolesc Health. 2014 Dec;55(6 Suppl):S58-67. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.08.022. Epub 2014 Nov 19.


Purpose: Globally, adolescent women are at risk for gender-based violence (GBV) including sexual violence and intimate partner violence (IPV). Those in economically distressed settings are considered uniquely vulnerable.

Methods: Female adolescents aged 15-19 from Baltimore, Maryland, USA; New Delhi, India; Ibadan, Nigeria; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Shanghai, China (n = 1,112) were recruited via respondent-driven sampling to participate in a cross-sectional survey. We describe the prevalence of past-year physical and sexual IPV, and lifetime and past-year non-partner sexual violence. Logistic regression models evaluated associations of GBV with substance use, sexual and reproductive health, mental health, and self-rated health.

Results: Among ever-partnered women, past-year IPV prevalence ranged from 10.2% in Shanghai to 36.6% in Johannesburg. Lifetime non-partner sexual violence ranged from 1.2% in Shanghai to 12.6% in Johannesburg. Where sufficient cases allowed additional analyses (Baltimore and Johannesburg), both IPV and non-partner sexual violence were associated with poor health across domains of substance use, sexual and reproductive health, mental health, and self-rated health; associations varied across study sites.

Conclusions: Significant heterogeneity was observed in the prevalence of IPV and non-partner sexual violence among adolescent women in economically distressed urban settings, with upwards of 25% of ever-partnered women experiencing past-year IPV in Baltimore, Ibadan, and Johannesburg, and more than 10% of adolescent women in Baltimore and Johannesburg reporting non-partner sexual violence. Findings affirm the negative health influence of GBV even in disadvantaged urban settings that present a range of competing health threats. A multisectoral response is needed to prevent GBV against young women, mitigate its health impact, and hold perpetrators accountable.

Keywords: Adolescent; Intimate partner violence; Sexual violence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • China / epidemiology
  • Domestic Violence* / economics
  • Domestic Violence* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Mental Health / economics
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Poverty Areas
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sex Offenses* / economics
  • Sex Offenses* / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / economics
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Urban Health* / economics
  • Young Adult