Home‎ > ‎

Gender-based violence

My research in this area examines prevalence, reporting, timing of initiation, and economic and health-related consequences of gender-based violence. 

For my guest blog at Women Under Siege discussing why women do not report or disclosure experiences with gender-based violence, click here.

Highlighted study: 
Co-authors: Jennifer Bleck, University of South Florida; Amber Peterman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Gender-based violence (GBV) is widespread globally and has myriad adverse health effects but is vastly underreported. Few studies address the extent of reporting bias in existing estimates. We provide bounds for underestimation of reporting of GBV to formal and informal sources conditional on having experienced GBV and characterize differences between women who report and those who do not. We analyzed Demographic and Health Survey data on 284,281 women from 24 countries implemented between 2004 and 2011. We performed descriptive analysis and multivariate logistic regressions examining characteristics associated with reporting to formal sources. Forty percent of women experiencing GBV previously disclosed to someone; however only 7% reported to a formal source (regional variation: 2% in India and East Asia to 14% in Latin America and the Caribbean). Formerly and never married status, urban residence, and increasing age were characteristics associated with increased likelihood of formal reporting. Our results imply estimates of GBV prevalence based on health systems data or on police reports may underestimate total prevalence of GBV, ranging from 11- to 128-fold, depending on region and type of reporting. In addition, women who report GBV differ from those who do not, with implications for program targeting and design of interventions.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R03HD073461. 

Advance access of the article, and invited commentary, and our response is available from the  American Journal of Epidemiology.

Select publications: 
1. Palermo T, Peterman A & Bleck J. (2013). “Tip of the iceberg: Reporting and gender based violence in developing countries.” American Journal of Epidemiology (in press).

 2. Palermo T & Peterman A. “Undercounting, overcounting, and the longevity of flawed estimates: Statistics on sexual violence in conflict.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 89(12). 

3. Peterman A, Cohen DK, Palermo T, Hoover Green A. (2011). “Rape Reporting During War: Why the Numbers Don't Mean What You Think They Do.” Foreign Affairs, published online August 1, 2011.

4. Peterman A, Palermo T, Bredenkamp C. (2011). “Estimates and Determinants of Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic ofthe Congo.American Journal of Public Health, 101(6): 1060-1067.

5.  Diaz-Olavarrieta C, Paz F, Abuabara K, Martinez Ayala HB, Kolstad K, Palermo T(2007).  “Abuse during pregnancy in Mexico City.  International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 97(1): 57-64.

Select presentations:
  • Tip of the iceberg: Reporting and gender based violence in developing countries.” Poster to be presented at the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) Forum2013: Evidence Into Action, Bangkok, Thailand, October 14-17, 2013.
  •  “Tip of the iceberg: Reporting and gender based violence in developing countries.” American Public Health Association 140thAnnual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, October 30, 2012.
  • "Sexualized violence in conflict: What do we know?" Presented at the Columbia University Epidemiology Scientific Symposium (CUESS) Global sexualized violence: from epidemiology to action, New York, January 25, 2013. 
  • “Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Presented at "High Stakes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Great Lakes Policy Forum, United States Institute of Peace, Washington, DC, June 2, 2011 
  • “Sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Population-based estimates and determinants.”  Population Association of America Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, March 31, 2011. http://paa2011.princeton.edu/abstracts/110175

Tia Palermo,
Jun 23, 2011, 5:58 PM
Tia Palermo,
Jun 2, 2011, 7:18 PM
Tia Palermo,
May 11, 2011, 8:10 AM