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Gender Violence and Health Centre

Reducing gender-based violence through cutting-edge research.

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The Gender Violence & Health Centre is an interdisciplinary research group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. We are more than 50 researchers with expertise on violence against women, violence against children, violence against men, violence among same-sex people, migration, labour exploitation and human trafficking.

We have been a World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre since 2019.

About us

Our research is action-oriented. We aim to better understand how to prevent violence and strengthen community and health systems responses to it.

Themes

Find out more about the major themes covered by our research

Projects

Read about our current and completed projects.

About us
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The Gender Violence and Health Centre is a multi-disciplinary group dedicated to research on the extent, causes, consequences and prevention of gender-based violence.

We work closely with local, national and international partners and stakeholders around the world to improve the lives of women, children, adolescents and men by:

  • identifying pressing research needs
  • conducting action-oriented research
  • and generating scientific knowledge and evidence on gender-based violence and health 

How we work

Our research is action-oriented, its overarching purpose is to better understand how to prevent violence and strengthen community and health systems responses to it. We collaborate with policy makers, non-governmental organisations and public health bodies around the world to ensure that the evidence we generate feeds into social change.

Established to tackle violence against women and girls, the Gender Violence & Health Centre was instrumental in bringing the problem of violence against women to global attention. While this is still a core focus of our work, our areas of expertise have now expanded to include:

  • Violence against children and adolescents
  • Human trafficking, migration and labour exploitation
  • Intimate partner violence against men in same-sex relationships

Our team comprises epidemiologists, sociologists, anthropologists, economists and social psychologists and this is reflected in the diverse research methods that we use. 

In particular, we are strong advocates of mixed method and longitudinal designs. When it comes to intervention evaluations we have extensive experience in conducting cluster randomised controlled trials coupled with process evaluations and economic costings – the ‘gold standard’ combo in the evaluation of randomised control trials – but we also recognise the value of quasi-experimental designs utilising quantitative and qualitative evidence, and the importance of theory to underpin both the intervention and its evaluation.

We want to be able to answer not only ‘what works to prevent violence?’, but also the more complex questions of ‘how?’, ‘when?’, ‘where?’ and ‘for whom?’

For this, different and creative methodological approaches are needed.

Where we work

Gender-based violence is a global issue, and the international scope of our work reflects this. We work in collaboration with partners all over the world, with an emphasis on low- and middle-income countries. Members of the Gender Violence and Health Centre have also led pioneering research into violence against women in conflict affected regions, and among mobile populations.

As well as leading projects in individual countries, we have collaborated in major multi-country studies to estimate global prevalence and impacts of intimate partner violence and child sexual abuse, and to help understand what drives variation in levels of violence around the world.

Our strategic goals

1. Going deeper: advancing theories and understanding determinants, causal pathways and prevention mechanisms related to gender-based violence

To make substantial advances in reducing gender-based violence globally, we need stronger theoretical development and greater understanding of the mechanisms that influence violence. The Gender Violence & Health Centre is in a unique position to contribute to the necessary evidence for stronger prevention and responses to violence and abuse because of our interdisciplinary staff, partners and projects in various locations. Collaboratively, we generate cutting edge, scientific evidence on gender-based violence to inform the development of innovative programming to inform improve intervention theories of change and reduce prevalence of gender-based violence.

Over the next three to five years, we are committed to synthesising current knowledge on developing robust cross-disciplinary methods and actively engaging with academic and non-academic collaborators, especially researchers in low- and middle-income countries.  We will:

  • utilise multiple data sets to understand differences across age groups, gender, vulnerable sub-populations, regions, and countries.
  • examine evidence from trials and programme evaluations to consolidate lessons to inform specialised longitudinal studies on different types of violence and incorporate questions on violence in current surveillance surveys.
  • draw on our history of developing and applying research ethics for violence studies to ensure our upcoming work leads the field in safe and sensitive ethical and safety protocols.
2. Going wider: developing interventions and conducting rigorous evaluations

Growing acknowledgement of the high prevalence of gender-based violence has led to an increased investment in trying to understand what works to address it. Yet, to date, we still lack robust knowledge on what works in different settings. As a global leader in evaluation of interventions to prevent violence against women, girls and children, The Gender Violence & Health Centre aims to expand this core competency to advance methodological approaches to inform intervention development, conduct impact studies and to support scale up of effective interventions. We will conduct ground breaking formative research to explore approaches to intervention development and adaptation, including identifying key intervention components and exploring multi-component intervention options. We will translate consolidated and emerging knowledge into intervention development and consider how evidence from interventions might be adapted to different settings. We will provide robust economic costings of interventions and evidence of value for money. We will identify scale-up opportunities of promising interventions that need to be further developed or adapted to reach larger populations. We will identify and characterise scale up pathways for different intervention models, including multi-sector intervention delivery models.

3. Going beyond silos: transcending boundaries and bridging silos in work on violence against women, adolescents and children

There is increasing recognition of the interconnections between violence against women and violence against children, and the overlaps with the field of human trafficking and labour exploitation. The Gender Violence & Health Centre is committed to bridging these silos by working across populations (women, men, children, adolescents), themes (physical and sexual violence, emotional abuse, sexual harassment) and disciplines (i.e., anthropology, epidemiology, economics, political science, sociology) settings (e.g., urban, rural, countries, continents, etc.). As always, our work depends on our wide-ranging partnerships (e.g., international organisations, NGOs, national and local governments, local stakeholders, male, female, and young community members).

Who we are
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Researchers
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Directors and founders

 

Heidi Stoeckl

Heidi Stöckl
DIRECTOR, Associate Professor in Social Epidemiology

Ana Maria Buller

Ana Buller
DEPUTY DIRECTOR, Assistant Professor in Social Sciences

 

Dr Charlotte Watts

Charlotte Watts
FOUNDING DIRECTOR, Professor of Social and Mathematical Epidemiology (LSHTM) and Chief Scientific Adviser (Department for International Development

Lori Heise

Lori Heise
FORMER DIRECTOR, Professor (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and Technical Director (Prevention Collaborative)

Cathy Zimmerman

Cathy Zimmerman 
FOUNDING MEMBER, Professor of migration, health, labour exploitation and gender violence 

Researchers

Tanya Abramsky

Tanya Abramsky
Research Fellow in Social Epidemiology

Lorraine Bacchus

Lorraine Bacchus
Associate Professor of Social Science

Tara Beattie

Tara Beattie
Associate Professor of HIV Epidemiology

Amiya Bhatia Thumbnail

Amiya Bhatia
Research Fellow in Cross Cultural Child Protection

Beniamino Cislaghi

Beniamino Cislaghi
Associate Professor in Social Norms

Manuela Colombini

Manuela Colombini
Assistant Professor of Gender Based Violence

Karen Devries

Karen Devries
Professor in Social Epidemiology

Camilla Fabbri

Camilla Fabbri
Research Fellow in Health Economics

Giulia Ferrari

Giulia Ferrari
Research Fellow

Anna Foss

Anna Foss
Associate Professor in Public Health Education and Mathematical Epidemiology

Mitzy Gafos

Mitzy Gafos
Associate Professor

Sheila Harvey

Sheila Harvey
Associate Professor of Clinical and Social Intervention Trials

Mazeda Hossain

Mazeda Hossain
Assistant Professor of Social Epidemiology

Lottie Howard-Merril

Lottie Howard-Merrill
Research Assistant

Asunghushe Kayambo

Asungushe Kayombe
Research Fellow (based in Mwanza)

 

Leah Kenny

Leah Kenny
Research Assistant

 

 

 

 

Louise Knight
Research Fellow

 

 

 

 

Nambusi Kyegombe
Assistant Professor of Social and Structural Determinants of Health

Shelley Lees

Shelley Lees
Associate Professor in Anthropology of Gender, Violence and HIV

Michelle Lokot

Michelle Lokot
Research Fellow

Joelle Mak

Joelle Mak
Assistant Professor

 

 

 

 

Mark Marchant
Research Fellow

 

 

 

 

Mahesh Mathpati
Research Fellow

Isabelle_pearson

Isabelle Pearson
Research Fellow

Marjorie Pichon

Marjorie Pichon
Research Assistant

 

Nicola Pocock

Nicola Pocock
Assistant Professor in Migration, Trafficking and Health

Meghna Ranganathan

Meghna Ranganathan,
Assistant Professor in Social Protection, Economic Empowerment and Health

 

 

 

Clare Tanton
Assistant Professor in Epidemiology

Sergio Torresrueda

Sergio Torres Rueda
Research Fellow

Anna Vassall

Anna Vassal
Professor of Health Economics

​​Support staff

 

 

 

 

Rosa Arques
Programme Coordinator

Annie Holmes

Annie Holmes
Research Uptake Manager

 

 

Christine McLanachan
Project Manager

 

 

Michael Naranjo
Project Support Officer

PhD students

 

 

Manuela Balliet

 

 

Dan Biswas

Dr.-DaSilva-Ilbru

Anita Kemi DaSilva-Ibru

 

 

Lily Haritu Foglabenchi

 

 

Claudia Lo Forte

 

 

Darshini Govindasamy

 

 

 

 

Susan Kelly

Alys McAlpine

Alys McAlpine 
Former GVHC Research Fellow

 

 

 

 

Jihana Mottley

M Nodzenski

Marie Nodzenski

Caroline-AN

Caroline Adjimi Nyemgah

Philomena Raftery

Philomena Raftery

​​​​Former members

Ligia Kiss

Dr Ligia Kiss
Associate Professor at University College London

Sian Oram

Dr Sian Oram
Lecturer in Women's Mental Health at King's College London

Holly Prudden

Holly Prudden
Project Manager at International AIDS Society

Michelle Remme

Michelle Remme
Research Fellow at the International Institute for Global Health

Erin Stern

Dr Erin Stern
Honorary Assistant Professor

 

Themes
Themes
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Established to tackle violence against women and girls, the Gender Violence & Health Centre was instrumental in bringing the problem of violence against women to global attention.

While this is still a core focus of our work, our scope has expanded to include a growing number of projects on violence against children and adolescents. the Gender Violence & Health Centre members also conducted one of the first surveys to estimate prevalence of intimate partner violence against men in same-sex relationships, and have led major studies into human trafficking and labour exploitation.

At the core of all of our work is an understanding of the importance of social norms and power imbalances in perpetuating and creating vulnerabilities to violence. Our action-oriented research aims to equip policy makers, practitioners and activists with the evidence they need to create lasting social change.

Our research explores violence from a range of angles:

  • the prevalence of different forms of violence in diverse settings and populations
  • the causes of violence, from individual-level risk and protective factors to structural risk factors such as social norms and unequal power relationships between women and men.
  • the consequences of violence, ranging from adverse physical and mental health outcomes, to intergenerational cycles of violence and economic costs to society
  • what works to prevent violence, and pathways through which intervention effects are achieved
  • health systems responses to violence

While different types of violence have distinct manifestations and consequences, and necessitate different strategies to combat them, we also recognise the intersections between them – where for example they co-occur within individuals or households, or share common causes. There is growing interest within the Gender Violence & Health Centre to share insights from across the spectrum of violence research and identify opportunities for combined approaches to prevention and response.

We work in collaboration with partners all over the world. Members of the Gender Violence & Health Centre have also led pioneering research into violence against women in countries affected by conflict and humanitarian crises, and among mobile populations.

Our major themes

Extent, causes and consequences of violence against women
Physical or sexual violence is a public health problem that affect more than one third of all women globally.

The Gender Violence & Health Centre has been instrumental in bringing the problem of violence against women to global attention, from its role in early high profile studies such as the WHO Multi-country study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence, through to the Global Burden Study to document the global prevalence of intimate partner violence. By documenting the extent of Violence against Women, and the physical, mental, social and economic consequences that it has for women, their families, communities and society as a whole, we increase the imperative of the global community to act – both to prevent violence and to respond more effectively to those affected.

Key to preventing violence is an understanding of what causes it. The Ecological Framework developed by Dr Lori Heise, member and former-Director of the Gender Violence & Health Centre, is now widely used by violence researchers, activists and policy makers around the world to acknowledge the different levels at which risk factors for intimate partner violence operate – individual woman, individual man, relationship, community and society. While our research focuses on all of these levels and the interactions between them, a strong focus of much of our current work is on community and societal (or ‘structural’) level factors that drive intimate partner violence risk. These include gender norms and women’s lack of access to education and economic opportunities.

Links between violence against women and HIV are also a major focus of the Centre. Intimate partner violence can be both a cause and consequence of HIV infection, and the two often share common underlying risk factors (such as notions of manhood that condone both men’s power over women and men engaging in risky sexual behaviours).

Our projects use diverse methods, from large-scale multi-country population-based surveys allowing us to make comparisons between settings, through to longitudinal studies that allow us to look at trajectories of risk over time and better disentangle causes versus consequences of intimate partner violence.

Prevention of violence against women and girls

The Gender Violence & Health Centre is at the forefront of research on the prevention of violence against women and girls and is a member of the research consortium implementing the DFID ‘What Works to Prevent Violence’ Global Programme.

Despite recognition of the extent of violence against women and girls and its severe consequences for women and girls around the world, rigorous evidence on what works to prevent violence against women and girls is scarce. The Gender Violence & Health Centre has led some of the first cluster randomised trials of violence against women and girls prevention programmes in low and middle income countries. We have evaluated a broad range of violence against women and girls interventions, including those aiming to empower women socially and economically, those working with men to promote ‘positive masculinities’, and those seeking to mobilise entire communities to challenge the underlying norms and structures that drive high rates of violence against women and girls. We are also interested in the potential for violence against women and girls prevention programmes to impact on other forms of violence such as violence against children, and in how to integrate violence against women and girls and HIV prevention efforts.

A growing evidence base demonstrates that cash transfers have potential to reduce intimate partner violence. Members of the Gender Violence & Health Centre have led qualitative studies to understand the pathways of influence of cash transfers on intimate partner violence and conducted the first review of rigorous studies from low-and middle-income countries, demonstrating that cash transfers decrease intimate partner violence.

Underlying violence against women and girls are usually harmful norms which contribute to these expressions of violence. In order to understand norms that contribute to the sexual abuse and exploitation of adolescents, the Learning Initiative on Norms, Exploitation and Abuse (LINEA), led by Dr Ana Maria Buller was created in 2014. This international multi-pronged project initiative explores how social norms theory can be used to prevent the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and adolescents across the world.

The Gender Violence & Health Centre is involved in all stages of the evaluation process, from formative research around the development and adaptation of intervention approaches and content, through to impact evaluations and research into the adaptation and scale-up of promising intervention models. Economists within our team also work closely alongside epidemiologists and social researchers to cost interventions, a key consideration of policy-makers tasked with deciding which interventions to adopt on a wider scale.

For more information on cash transfers and IPV contact Dr Ana Maria Buller, Dr Meghna Ranganathan, Dr Shelley Lees and Dr Nambusi Kyegombe.

For more information on social norms and sexual exploitation of children and adolescents contact Dr Ana Maria Buller and Ms Lottie Howard-Merrill.

Health system responses to violence against women

Health systems have a crucial role in responding to violence against women as part of a coordinated multi-sector response. Women access health services at multiple points – from primary care and hospital settings through to sexual and reproductive health clinics and HIV services. This provides opportunities for those experiencing violence against women to access support, but health services are often slow to recognise violence, have limited resources, and lack staff trained in how to help. The Gender Violence & Health Centre conducts research into how best to integrate violence against women interventions into health systems and services.

While existing evidence on health systems responses to violence against women is skewed towards high income countries, the Gender Violence & Health Centre research spans low-, middle- and high-income countries. We have conducted studies in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, sub- Saharan Africa, Latin America and North America. Our work draws on a variety of disciplines including health services research, health systems and policy analysis, social science and economics.

The Gender Violence & Health Centre researchers have undertaken health policy and systems research evaluations of a wide variety of intervention models, including:

One Stop Crisis Centres in Asia; the integration of intimate partner violence screening/services into primary care, sexual and reproductive health and HIV settings in a range of countries the incorporation of an mHealth intimate partner violence intervention into nurse home visitation programmes in the US responses to intimate partner violence in antenatal care settings.

Our focus extends beyond the evaluation of specific intervention models. Bigger picture questions have included: how to engage key stakeholders in intervention development and evaluation, how to create links between healthcare systems in low- and middle-income countries and community organisations working on violence against women, and identifying opportunities for coordinated responses to intimate partner violence and child maltreatment. Insights from these have helped us to achieve greater influence on policy and programming, and ultimately ensure better outcomes for women and children.

LSHTM is currently Co-Directing an NIHR Global Health Group on Healthcare Responding to Violence and Abuse (HERA) in low and middle-income countries with the University of Bristol. 

For more information on the Gender Violence & Health Centre research on health systems responses to violence against women, contact Dr Loraine Bacchus or Dr Manuela Colombini.

We explore the theoretical underpinnings of how these interventions work, as well as the systems and service factors that may affect their implementation in diverse countries and health settings. Furthermore, we conduct comparative research into promising intervention models, and estimate the relative costs of different health sector interventions.

Research on violence against children

Violence against children occurs in all societies throughout the world. In 2016 it was estimated that half of all children aged 2-17 years – that is 1 billion children –had experienced emotional, physical or sexual violence in the past year.  All too often this violence is carried out by someone the child knows: family members, teachers, schoolmates, boyfriends and employers.

The consequences of this violence can be profound and long-term, affecting children’s physical, psychological and mental health. Children who experience violence are also more likely to perpetrate violence against others later in life, perpetuating cycles of violence in future generations.

The Child Protection Research Group led by Dr Karen Devries is part of the Gender Violence & Health Centre. This research group includes several Gender Violence & Health Centre members and works with partners in low and middle income countries, to better understand the causes and consequences of violence against children, and to develop and evaluate interventions to reduce this violence.

Much of the work of the Child Protection Research Group is focused on the primary prevention of violence. They have led major studies on the development and evaluation of school-based violence prevention strategies, as well as research into community based prevention programming. They also conduct research with children and adolescents identified as high risk or already receiving child protection services, to study resilience and explore how to improve health outcomes among those who have experienced violence.

The Child Protection Research Group uses a range of epidemiological and social research methods, including randomised controlled trials, cross-sectional and cohort studies, qualitative research, evidence synthesis and modelling. They also undertake methodological research into the ethical conduct of child protection research, how to ensure children and adolescents are able to disclose their experiences to researchers, and how to measure experience and use of different forms of violence in different settings.

The Gender Violence & Health Centre benefits from a close relationship – and the exchange of skills, knowledge and ideas – with the Child Protection Research Group. The Learning Initiative on Norms, Exploitation and Abuse (LINEA) was established within the Gender Violence & Health Centre in 2014. This international multi-pronged project explores how social norms theory can be used to prevent the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and adolescents across the world.

An additional focus of the Gender Violence & Health Centre is the intersections between violence against women and violence against children. Areas of interest include the co-occurrence of violence against women and violence against children within households, intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence against adolescent girls, the effects that witnessing intimate partner violence have on children’s well-being and future risk of perpetrating/experiencing intimate partner violence, and the potential for violence against women interventions to impact on children’s well-being.

Migration, human trafficking and labour exploitation

We live in an increasingly globalised world. The latest figures suggest that there are approximately one billion people on the move – 258 million international migrants and about 750 million people who have migrated within their own country. While migration can bring many benefits for individuals, their families and communities of origin and destination, it can also put migrants at risk of abuse, exploitation and adverse health outcomes. The Gender Violence & Health Centre leads pioneering research into the health and well-being of vulnerable mobile groups, including trafficked persons, low-wage migrant workers, refugees and asylum-seekers.

The Gender Violence & Health Centre has been a key player in highlighting the links between trafficking and health. European based studies led by Dr Cathy Zimmerman, a founding member of the Gender Violence & Health Centre, generated the first data on the health risks and outcomes associated with trafficking, while the STEAM study in the Mekong region remains the largest study to date on human trafficking and health.

Our research goes beyond highlighting risks – it is tailored to influence programming and policy and to ultimately improve the lives of migrants. To this end, we have conducted a major evaluation of a multi-country programme to prevent forced labour (SWIFT), developed a migration policy-making framework, engaged heavily with policy makers to ensure effective research uptake, and produced guidance for health care providers on responding to the health needs of trafficked persons.

The Gender Violence & Health Centre work focuses on all stages of the migration process, identifying both the risks and intervention opportunities that can occur at each stage – from pre-departure planning and travel, through to arrival and life at destination, and (in some instances) return to the country of origin. We use mixed methods, quantitative and qualitative, to help understand the complexity of the migration process and diversity of migrants’ experiences.

The Gender Violence & Health Centre has led projects in Asia, Africa, South America and Europe (including the UK). Many of these are multi-country studies, reflecting regional migration flows and challenges.

Our work focuses on the gendered aspects of migration, trafficking and exploitation, recognising the particular vulnerability of women and children to sexual abuse and exploitation, and the experiences of men and boys in situations of hazardous and forced labour.

For more information on the Gender Violence & Health Centre research on migration, human trafficking and labour exploitation, contact Prof Cathy Zimmerman, Dr Ligia Kiss, Dr Nicola Pocock, Ms Alys McApline, Dr Ana Maria Buller, Dr Heidi Stöckl and Ms Camilla Fabbri.

Intimate partner violence against men in same sex relationships

Research suggests that at least a third of men in same sex relationships have experienced violence by an intimate partner. Studies from the US indicate that among some populations this figure may be upwards of 75%. And yet, intimate partner violence against men in same sex relationships remains a largely hidden problem.

As with women, the effects of IPV on men’s health and behaviours can be serious and far-reaching. They include increased depressive symptoms, substance abuse, unprotected sex and HIV infection. However, whilst there is a growing body of evidence on health systems interventions for women who experience domestic violence, there is sparse research on the needs of men in same sex relationships, or interventions that may address the specific situations and challenges faced by them.

Men are often reluctant to seek help from services due to the dual stigma of being gay and suffering abuse from a same sex partner. Internalised gender notions about masculine identity may cause men to be silent about their experiences. The heteronormative frameworks within which health system interventions for domestic violence are developed pose an additional barrier to help seeking. Furthermore, bidirectional violence is common within this population, meaning it can be difficult to distinguish ‘victim’ from ‘perpetrator’.

GVHC researcher Dr Loraine J Bacchus led the first UK study (PROVIDE) to explore experiences of domestic violence and associated health problems among gay and bisexual men attending sexual health services, as part of an NIHR programme grant on health sector responses to domestic violence. The research also pilot tested an intervention to help sexual health practitioners identify, support and provide appropriate referrals for men in same sex relationships who are experiencing domestic violence.

Within the context of PROVIDE GVHC Deputy Director Dr Ana Maria Buller, led the first global systematic review on the health outcomes of IPV among MSM which found that MSM who have experienced IPV are more like to be HIV positive, show signs of mental health illness and substance abuse among other detrimental health outcomes.

For further details contact Dr Loraine Bacchus and Dr Ana Maria Buller.

Violence against sex workers
Violence against sex workers

Women who sell sex are at increased risk of violence compared with women in the general population. Recent estimates suggest that between 45% and 75% of female sex workers (FSWs) will experience violence in their lifetime, with between 32% and 56% reporting violence in the past year (Deering AJPH 2014).

As well as experiencing violence from their intimate partners, women who sell sex face violence from a host of other perpetrators, including clients, pimps, madams, the police, other sex workers, strangers and goons/thugs. Women face emotional abuse, physical and sexual violence, financial violence and police extortion, illegal police arrest and incarceration. In most settings, the illegal/unclear legal status of sex work means that women who experience violence rarely report this to the authorities and men who perpetrate violence are rarely bought to justice, enabling them to continue re-offending with impunity (Dunkle AJRI 2012).

FSWs are also at greatly increased risk of HIV infection compared with women in the general population (Baral Lancet Infect Dis 2012). There is good evidence from longitudinal cohort studies that women who experience violence are at increased risk of HIV infection (Li JIAS 2014), and this is also true of FSWs. Among women living with HIV, violence also impacts on HIV outcomes, including reducing uptake and adherence of HIV anti-retroviral (ARV) medicines (Hatcher AIDS 2015).

At LSHTM we have a long history of working with collaborators in India, Kenya and Canada on issues of violence and HIV with female sex worker populations in low- and middle-income countries.

The 10-year Bill and Melinda Gates funded India Avahan programme, found peer-led comprehensive violence and HIV prevention programming was associated with reductions in both violence and HIV among FSWs.

The 7-year MRC-DFID funded Samvedana Plus intervention, has been working in partnership with Karnataka Health Promotion Trust, south India, to reduce violence against FSWs by their intimate partner.

The 3-year MRC-DFID funded Maisha Fiti study in Nairobi, Kenya, is working in partnership with Partners for Health and Development in Africa, and aims to understand the indirect pathways by which violence experience increases HIV risk and the impact of violence and other social factors on ARV uptake and adherence.

For more information on GVHC research on violence against sex workers, contact Dr Tara Beattie.

Violence against sex workers
Humanitarian crises and conflict settings

Gender-based violence is an important human rights issue in humanitarian settings with long-term consequences for survivors’ health and well-being. As attention to gender-based violence has increased on the global level, gaps in the evidence base for effective programming and understanding of the drivers, patterns and consequences of gender-based violence have become more pressing as humanitarian aid agencies, donors and governments seek guidance on how to create programmes and policies that effectively prevent and respond to gender-based violence.

The Gender Violence & Health Centre lead on gender-based violence and conflict research portfolio is led by Dr Mazeda Hossain who conducts rigorous research that works to improve the evidence base on gender-based violence and health in humanitarian crisis settings. The research projects primarily consist of close collaborations with UN and humanitarian agencies, policymakers, and partners in conflict-affected settings in order to improve the evidence base on violence prevention and response for all survivors of gender based violence; and develop innovative methodological approaches for conducting research in conflict-affected settings.

The research in conflict-affected and humanitarian settings has focused on a range of topics. Some of the major projects include:

  • the development and evaluation of community-based violence prevention programming working with men in conflict settings
  • understanding how task sharing with refugee community workers is used to deliver gender-based violence services for survivors in a refugee camp context
  • understanding social norms and barriers to using modern family methods among conflict-affected nomadic communities
  • and research among adolescent Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

The Gender Violence & Health Centre gender-based violence and conflict research portfolio uses a range of epidemiological and social science methods including cluster randomised controlled trials, cohort studies, cross-sectional studies, realist evaluations, qualitative research, social network analysis, mixed methods, and evidence synthesis. She has developed methodological guidance for researching gender-based violence in humanitarian settings using approaches that address the technical and ethical challenges that researchers face, especially in conflict-affected settings.

For more information on the Gender Violence & Health Centre research on humanitarian crises and conflict settings, contact Dr Mazeda Hossain.

 

Projects
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Ongoing projects

Extent, causes and consequences of violence against women and girls
Preventing violence against women and girls
Health system responses to violence against women
Violence against children and adolescents
Migration, human trafficking and labour exploitation
Humanitarian crisis and violence against women and girls
  • Methodological Innovations for Gender, Justice and Security. Development and testing of innovative methodological approaches for the women, peace and security sectors. Main contacts: Dr Mazeda Hossain (Co-Director), Dr Ligia Kiss and Dr Loraine Bacchus.
     
  • Rohingya Adolescent Research Network. Research network formation for researchers, humanitarians, service providers and policymakers interested in the health, education and violence experiences and needs of stateless adolescent Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Main contact: Dr Mazeda Hossain.
     
  • What is an effective model of care for survivors of gender-based violence in a refugee camp? Evaluation of a GBV response service in a refugee camp: comprehensive care management with task sharing by refugee community workers. Main contact: Dr Mazeda Hossain.
     
  • Contraception without Borders. Social norms influencing modern family planning use among conflict-affected nomadic and semi-nomadic communities: Formative research using social network analysis to develop a community-based intervention. Main contacts: Dr Mazeda Hossain, Dr Ben Cislaghi, Leah Kenny and Dr Loraine Bacchus.
     
  • Disability, mental health and violence in humanitarian settings. Cross-sectional study on disability and violence among refugee women in the Dadaab refugee camps. Main contact: Dr Mazeda Hossain.

 

Completed projects

Extent, causes and consequences of violence against women and girls
  • Global Burden of Disease Study: Main contacts: Dr Karen Devries, Dr Charlotte Watts and Dr Loraine Bacchus.
     
  • Intimate partner homicide: Systematic review of the global prevalence of intimate partner homicide – part of the Global Burden of Disease study. Main Contact: Dr Heidi Stöckl.
     
  • WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence. The WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women was a ground-breaking effort to document the prevalence of intimate partner violence and other forms of violence against women using population-based sampling. It was initially carried out in 15 sites in 10 countries. The study was implemented by WHO, in collaboration with LSHTM, PATH and research institutions and women’s organisations in the participating countries. Main contacts: Dr Charlotte Watts and Dr Lori Heise.
     
  • Multivariate analysis of the relation between MDG 3, 4, 5 and 6: Secondary data analysis of associations between HIV and indicators of women’s empowerment: Main contacts: Dr Heidi Stöckl and Dr Charlotte Watts.
     
  • Empowering pregnant women in Tanzania to address the double burden of intimate partner violence and HIV: a mixed methods research study: Secondary data analysis postdoctoral fellowship on IPV and HIV in Tanzania. Main contact: Dr Heidi Stöckl.
     
  • Understanding partner violence during pregnancy and identifying interventions for its prevention and reduction: Secondary data analysis on IPV during pregnancy in Tanzania. Main contact: Dr Heidi Stöckl.
     
  • EMPOWER: Combination HIV prevention for adolescent girls and young women: Demonstration study to evaluate an HIV prevention intervention for adolescent girls and young women that addresses gender-based violence and includes oral PrEP (South Africa and Tanzania). Main contacts: Dr Sheila Harvey, Dr Charlotte Watts and Dr Manuela Colombini.
     
  • Formative research on exploitative aspects of transactional sex in Uganda and Tanzania: Qualitative research. Main contact: Dr Ana Maria Buller.
     
  • Mathematical modelling of the risk of sexual violence and HIV in conflict settings: Publications on sexual violence in conflict settings were reviewed and a mathematical model describing the probability of HIV acquisition was adapted to include the potential effect of genital injury and used to estimate the relative risk of HIV acquisition in ‘conflict’ versus ‘non-conflict’ situations. An analytical equation was developed to estimate the impact of SV on HIV incidence. Main contacts: Dr Charlotte Watts.
Preventing violence against women and girls
  • The SASA! Study: Mixed-methods evaluation of a community mobilisation intervention to prevent violence against women and reduce HIV risk in Kampala, Uganda. (Cluster randomised trial, process evaluation, qualitative study, costing study). Main contact: Dr Karen Devries, Tanya Abramsky, Dr Ligia Kiss and Dr Charlotte Watts.
     
  • The Intervention with Microfinance for AIDS and Gender Equity (IMAGE) study: Cluster randomised trial of a microfinance and participatory gender training programme for the prevention of intimate-partner violence and HIV in rural South Africa. Main contact: Dr Charlotte Watts.
     
  • Evaluation of “Education is a Conversation”: Cluster RCT of a violence prevention and reproductive and sexual health intervention in conflict-affected Northern Uganda – study dropped after formative and protocol. Main contact: Dr Mazeda Hossain.
     
  • Gender norms and economic empowerment intervention to reduce intimate partner violence against women in rural Côte d’Ivoire: a randomized controlled pilot study: RCT evaluation of Village Savings & Loan intervention + gender dialogue group. Main contact: Dr Mazeda Hossain.
     
  • Men & Women in Partnership: a cluster randomised trial of an intervention to prevent violence against women in rural Côte d’Ivoire, a conflict-affected setting: RCT evaluation of a men’s group intervention to prevent VAWG in a conflict-affected setting. Main contact: Dr Mazeda Hossain.
     
  • Qualitative impact evaluation of RCT on CT, food and vouchers and IPV (Ecuador). Main contact: Dr Ana Maria Buller.
     
  • Qualitative evaluation of the Jigisemerjiri cash transfer programme in Mali”.  Main contacts: Dr Nambusi Kyegombe and Dr Shelley Lees.
     
  • Samvedana Plus: CRT of intervention to reduce IPV and increase consistent condom use among female sex workers in north Karnataka, India. Main contact: Dr Tara Beattie.
     
  • Project Samata (Equality): to support adolescent girls from marginalised communities to enter and remain in secondary school until completion (aged 16), and thereby delay their age at marriage and potential entry into sex work, India. Main contact: Dr Tara Beattie.
     
  • Evaluation guidance development for violence prevention programming in conflict settings: Guidance for violence prevention programming in conflict settings (Sub-analysis of Cote d’Ivoire research, systematic review, secondary data analysis). Main contact: Dr Mazeda Hossain.
     
  • Review of the global evidence on pathways by which cash transfers impact IPV: Systematic review/secondary data analysis of the pathways through which cash transfers impact on IPV. Main contact: Dr Ana Maria Buller, Dr Meghna Ranganathan and Dr Lori Heise.
     
  • Expanding and building upon DREAMS evaluation – evaluating the effect of MTV Shuga on sexual health and HIV prevention in adolescents and young adults in South Africa. Main contact: Dr Nambusi Kyegombe.
Extent, causes and consequences of violence against women and girls
Intimate partner violence against men in same sex relationships

PROVIDE: Prevalence of intimate partner violence in gay and bisexual men attending a UK sexual health clinic and pilot educational intervention for sexual health practitioners (UK). Main contacts: Dr Loraine Bacchus, Dr Ana Maria Buller and Giulia Ferrari.

Health system responses to violence against women
 Migration, human trafficking and labour exploitation
Humanitarian crisis and violence against women and girls
Publications & resources
Publications and resources
Publications
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Violence against women

The Lancet series on Violence Against Women and Girls

Dr Charlotte Watts, Dr Cathy Zimmerman,  Dr Manuela Colombini and Claudia Garcia Moreno of the WHO, co-edited an important collection of papers with The Lancet. Together with a comment by President Jimmy Carter, the papers cover:

  • the evidence base on prevention
  • the health sector response
  • a social and gender norms approach to prevention
  • programming lessons from experience
  • a call for specific action to eliminate violence against women and girls
lancet

Global and regional estimates of violence against women

The first systematic study of the global prevalence of two forms of violence against women (VAW) — violence by an intimate partner and sexual violence by someone other than a partner – was undertaken by the Gender, Violence and Health Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the South African Medical Research Council.

global-health

WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence

WHO’s landmark study, conducted with LSHTM, documents violence against women by their intimate partners. This report presents the initial results based on evidence collected from over 24 000 women in 10 countries.

WHO-10-country

SASA!

SASA! means ‘now!’ in Kiswahili. This comprehensive approach combines tools and a systematic process for community mobilisation to prevent violence against women and HIV. SASA! was developed by Raising Voices and is being implemented in Kampala, Uganda by the Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP).

The SASA! Study, a cluster randomised controlled trial, assesses the impact of the SASA! programme on violence and HIV prevention.

!SASA - Is Violence Against Women Preventable?

Putting Women First: Ethical and Safety Recommendations for Research on Domestic Violence Against Women

The first ethics recommendations on researching violence against women have been published by Dr Charlotte Watts with WHO.

putting-women-first

Violence, mobile populations and health

Labour Exploitation, Trafficking and Migrant Health: Multi-country Findings on the Health Risks and Consequences of Migrant and Trafficked Workers

Violence-Mobile-Populations

Safer labour migration and community-based prevention of exploitation

safe-labour-migration

Health and human trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion report

The Study on Trafficking, Exploitation and Abuse in the Mekong Sub-region (STEAM) was launched in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 18 November 2014. STEAM is a longitudinal survey of health consequences of human trafficking, and offers methodological guidance for the evaluation of a large NGO-funded intervention to prevent trafficking in seven Asian countries.

Steam-Report-Meknog

Caring for Trafficked Persons: Guidance for Health Providers

CT-Handbook

Stolen Smiles

Stolen Smiles was carried out between 2003 and 2005. It surveyed 207 women in seven European countries who had been trafficked into sex work or sexually abused as domestic labourers. It was also the first study to use epidemiological methods to investigate the physical, sexual and mental health of trafficked women and adolescents.

Stolen-smiles

Impact Case Study

This work was selected for the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s application to the Research Excellence Framework 2014 and was highly rated. The REF is a new system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.


WHO Ethical and Safety Recommendations for Interviewing Trafficked Women

Intended mainly for researchers, media persons and service providers unfamiliar with the situation of trafficked women, this document aims to build a sound understanding of the risks, ethical considerations, and practical realities related to trafficking of women.

WHO-Ethics-And-Safety

Asylum-seeking Women, Violence & Health: Results from a pilot study in Scotland and Belgium

Asylum-seeking-Women

Violence against sex workers

Maisha Fiti – briefing note

A three year study with 1000 women in Nairobi, Kenya, examining the associations between violence against women, mental health concerns, alcohol and drug use, biological changes to the immune system and HIV.

Maisha Fiti – briefing note
Updates
Updates List Block
LSHTM Global Health Lecture: Violence against women & girls and Health

Professor Charlotte Watts and Dr Heidi Stoeckl delivered this talk entitled ‘Violence against women & girls and Health’

 

GVCH lecture 20.01.2020

Violence against women and girls - in its multiple forms - is an important human rights abuse, and public health problem. There is a growing body of population based evidence on the prevalence of different forms of violence, with global estimates suggesting that at least one in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime, and that every third murdered woman is murdered by an intimate partner. Tackling violence therefore is a policy priority for many governments and international governmental and non-governmental organisations seeking to improve the lives and health of women, children, families and men. Drawing upon the work of the LSHTM Gender, Violence and Health Centre, and the Lancet Series on Violence against Women and Health, that the Centre led, this public health lecture will provide an overview of the conceptualisation and measurement of violence, the prevalence of different forms of violence and their health impacts, and summarise evidence and guidance on effective health sector and prevention strategies.

Their talk will soon appear on https://vimeo.com/channels/ghls

How is economic security linked to gender-based violence? New insights from the Sexual Violence Research Initiative Forum 2019
SVRI Forum 2019: Perspectives from a young researcher

Manuela Balliet, a PhD student based in the GVHC, features on the SVRI website giving her perspective as a young researcher. 

Manuela won the Young Researcher Award at this years Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) Forum, for her presentation: Learn in peace, educate without violence: preliminary evidence for the effects of a brief, school-based violence prevention intervention in Cote d’Ivoire.

Manuela-Balliet

   

Webinar - Debating the future of global VAWG prevention: Violence is preventable, but what will it take?
What Works Event flyer 27 Nov 19
16 days of activism against gender violence series of seminars at LSHTM and Kings College

For the 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women campaign, the Gender Violence and Health Centre hosts and annual seminar series at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. This year we are hosting together with King's College London.

The series will begin on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November) and will run until Human Rights Day (10 December). Admission is free and open to all. Entry is on a first come, first served basis. 

2019 marks the 28th year of the campaign.

16days

25 November, 12:45 - 14:00
LSHTM,  Jerry Morris A+B, Tavistock Place
Dr Ana Maria Buller and Marjorie Pichon, 'A closer look at relational aspects of intimate partner violence: Household decision making, romantic jealousy and IPV ‘

28 November, 4pm (reception from 5pm onwards)
Kings College,  Robin Murray Lecture Theatre, Institute of Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience
Dr Sian Oram, ‘Modern Slavery and Mental Health‘

29 November, 12:45 – 14:00
LSHTM,  Jerry Morris A+B, Tavistock Place
Dr Tara Beattie, ‘Violence, HIV and Sex Work’

3 December, 12:30 13:30
Kings College, Anthony Mann Rm, David Goldberg centre, Institute of Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience
Dr Kylee Trevillion and Dr Jill Domoney, ‘For Baby’s Sake: Evaluating a whole-family perinatal intervention to break the cycle of domestic abuse.’

5 December, 12:45 14:00
LSHTM,  Jerry Morris A+B, Tavistock Place
Dr Manuela Colombini and Dr Loraine Bacchus, ‘Domestic violence and health sector responses: a case study from Palestine’

10 December, 12:45 - 14:00
LSHTM, LG80, Keppel St
Mark Marchant, ‘What is empowerment?’

Professor of Social Epidemiology Karen Devries

Dr Karen Devries has been promoted to Professor of Social Epidemiology.

Karen-Devries

Dr Devries specialises in child protection and the prevention of violence against children and adolescents. Her work seeks to develop and test novel ways of reducing violence and improving child and adolescent health, while integrating methodological questions around ethics, safeguarding and the measurement of violence. Her work has been instrumental in raising the profile of violence against children from school staff, and its impact on health.

Manuela Balliet wins SVRI Young Researcher Award

Manuela Balliet, PhD student in the Child Protection Research Group led by Professor Dr Karen Devries has won the Young Researcher Award at this years Sexual Violence Research Initiative Forum in Cape Town for her presentation: Learn in peace, educate without violence: preliminary evidence for the effects of a brief, school-based violence prevention intervention in Cote d’Ivoire.

Manuela Balliet collecting award SVRI 2019

 

The Politics of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Collaboration with Reproductive Health Matters, GVHC & MARCH
SRHR-Flyer

Panel discussion, 6 December 2018

Host: Dr Heidi Stöckl
Moderator: Eszter Kismődi, Chief Executive, Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters journal

Speakers: Dr Faysal El KakVice President of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), American University of Beirut; Loveday Penn-Kekana, LSHTM; Anne Philpott, Department for International Development; Edwin J Bernard, Global Co-coordinator, HIV Justice Network; Bianka Vida, University of Surrey; and Dr Laura Ferguson, University of Southern California

UK Domestic Violence and Health Research Forum

12 June 2019

GVHC is proud to co-host with UCL the next UK Domestic Violence and Health Research Forum at UCL.

The aim of the UK Domestic Violence and Health forum is to present and share research in the field of domestic violence and health. This includes research in progress, completed research studies and the future direction and challenges arising within these studies, prospective areas of research as well as news and events.

MRC Festival: Maisha Fiti film

Thursday 20 June 2019, 5pm - 6:30pm

Manson Theatre, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

mrc-festival

Join us to watch and discuss a short film that gives voice to sex workers in Nairobi, Kenya: the violence they face and the ways they are coming together to address it. Learn about an innovative study into violence, HIV risk and mental health among sex workers at this years MRC Festival of Medical Research.

Additional details: We particularly welcome community groups, NGOs and funders focused on sex work, violence against women and women’s rights.

Organisers: MRC grantee Maisha Fiti study, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

For more information please contact: Dr Tara Beattie and Annie Holmes

We are a WHO Collaborating Centre
WHO Collaborating Centre

The Gender Violence and Health Centre became a WHO Collaborating Centre in January 2019

WHO collaborating centres are institutions such as research institutes, parts of universities or academies.  They are designated by the Director-General to carry out activities in support of the WHO’s programmes.

Annual event: 16 days of activism against violence against women
LSHTM Global Health Lecture

Dr Charlotte Watts and Dr Heidi Stöckl presented at the LSHTM Global Health Lecture on 18 February 2019.

GHLS: Gender- based violence and health 18-02-2019 from LSHTM on Vimeo.

GVHC to play key roles in three new collaborations focused on major global challenges
GCRF logo

Dr Cathy Zimmerman is a co-investigator for the South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub led by Coventry University, which will investigate how migration in the Global South affects inequalities, labour exploitation and development.

Dr Heidi Stöckl is a co-investigator for the University of Oxford’s Accelerating Achievement for Africa’s Adolescents Hub, for which she will lead the evaluation of a complex social intervention on gender-based violence and WASH.

Dr Mazeda Hossain is a co-principal investigator on the Gender, Justice and Security Hub where she will lead a work package on methodological innovations. The Hub, led by the London School of Economics and Political Science, seeks to advance sustainable peace by developing an evidence-base around gender, justice and inclusive security in conflict-affected societies. 

National Institute for Health Research logo

Dr Loraine Bacchus is co-principal investigator and co-director and Dr Manuela Colombini, co-investigator of the NIHR Global Health Group on Health System Responses to Violence Against Women with the University of Bristol. The group are developing and testing interventions in sexual and reproductive health settings in Brazil, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the occupied Palestinian Territory.