Is Working Risky or Protective for Married Adolescent Girls in Urban Slums in Kenya? Understanding the Association between Working Status, Savings and Intimate-Partner Violence

July 2016 - Structural Prevention

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Muthengi, E., Gitau,T., Austrian, K. PLOS ONE (May 2016), doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155988.

This study focused on the association between work and experience of physical violence among married adolescents, and looked at the impact of access to independent financial resources on this risk. Between August and December 2013 the authors used a dataset of 452 adolescent girls residing in low-income, informal settlements (slums) in four Kenyan cities and towns: Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru, and Thika. This activity was part of a baseline survey for an intervention to build social, health, and economic assets for vulnerable young women in these cities. About one-fourth of girls who worked had experienced physical violence during the previous six months, compared with 16 percent of girls who did not work. Major factors associated with reduced odds of experiencing physical violence were primary education, secondary education, and ownership of jewelry. Working with no regular savings was associated with greater odds of intimate partner violence, compared to girls not working. Saving regularly was not associated with violence; and partner trust regarding money was associated with 63 percent lower likelihood of violence compared with not having partner trust. The authors concluded that while economic empowerment in the form of work for married adolescent girls may increase their risk of experiencing violence, having savings can be protective.

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