This paper investigates the links between conflict, forced displacement and IPV in two different conflict-affected settings: Colombia and Liberia. Both countries are affected by a history of long-running civil conflict, displacement, and high levels of societal violence.
The analysis is based on Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data, which in Colombia and Liberia includes questions on internal displacement as well as exposure to IPV. The 2007 Liberia DHS was carried out four years post-conflict, providing insights into the long-term impact of displacement on women, whereas the 2010 Colombia DHS, provides insights into displacement and IPV during the ongoing internal conflict in Colombia. DHS data are combined with data on yearly conflict events and fatalities at the sub-national level for the ten years preceding the DHS survey. For Liberia, this data comes from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), while for Colombia conflict data are drawn from the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, Conflict Encyclopedia Database (UCDP). The final sample covered 32,083 women in Colombia and 4,913 women in Liberia.
This study examines three outcomes: lifetime IPV, past-year IPV and injury resulting from IPV. Past-year IPV is defined as having experienced any physical or sexual violence in the 12 months prior to the survey. Women who experienced past-year IPV were compared to women who have not experienced IPV.
Main findings in Colombia:
- Displaced women were 40 percent more likely to experience past-year IPV compared to non-displaced women after adjusting for other risk factors. Risk factors included: younger age at marriage, being widowed or divorced, being employed in the past year, household headship, having a partner with control issues, having a father who beat the respondent’s mother and having a partner who uses alcohol or drugs. Protective factors included having children under the age of five in the home and having a partner with higher educational attainment.
- Displaced women were 40 percent more likely to experience lifetime IPV compared to non-displaced women. In addition to being displaced, other risk factors include being widowed or divorced, being employed in the past year, and having an urban versus rural place of residence. Protective factors included: marrying at later ages, having more children under the age of five in the home, and having partners who completed higher education.
- Displaced women were 40 percent more likely to experience lifetime injury-causing IPV compared to non-displaced women.
- Both conflict and displacement were independently and significantly associated with past-year IPV. The likelihood of experiencing past-year IPV increased by 0.1 percent for each additional conflict fatality and increased by 40 percent among displaced compared to non-displaced women. The interaction between fatalities and displacement did not emerge as significant in the model, suggesting that the two variables do not interact with each other to affect past-year IPV.
Main findings in Liberia:
- Displaced women were 55 percent more likely to experience past-year IPV compared to non-displaced women. Risk factors included: younger age at marriage, no longer being in a union, higher educational attainment, having a partner who used alcohol or has control issues, and having witnessed a father beat her mother. Protective factors included: having a partner with a secondary education, household headship, being currently employed and being in the highest wealth quintile.
- Displaced women were 50 percent more likely to report lifetime IPV compared to non-displaced women. Risk factors included: having received any education versus no education, being formerly partnered versus currently partnered, and living in an urban versus rural area, having control issues with partner; having a father who beat their mother, and having a partner who used alcohol or drugs. Being a head of household was instead protective.
- Forced displacement does not rise to significance as a risk factor for injury from IPV, although the direction of the association remains the same.
- Both conflict and displacement were independently and significantly associated with past-year IPV. A woman’s chances of past-year IPV increased by 0.2 percent for each additional conflict fatality in her district, and displacement increased the risk of the same outcome by 60 percent.
In both Colombia and Liberia, forced displacement and conflict are highly and significantly associated with increased lifetime and past-year IPV. While the analysis revealed some context specific rick factors for IPV, most risk factors highly associated with IPV were found in both countries, for example childhood experiences of violence and partner alcohol use. Recognizing that forced displacement can exacerbate pre-existing risk factors for IPV, while also creating new vulnerabilities, the authors advocate for more robust policies to identify, address and prevent IPV post-conflict and in displacement settings.