Understanding gender-based violence and health in post-conflict Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is experiencing the prolonged impacts of a nearly 30-year civil war which ended in 2009. Living in a post-conflict area has been found in multiple settings to be associated with increased likelihood of intimate partner violence and girl child marriage, as well as poor health outcomes such as reduced access to reproductive health care and child malnutrition. Using data from the 2016 Sri Lankan Demographic and Health Survey, this dissertation aims to understand associations between proximity to conflict, girl child marriage, intimate partner violence (IPV), and reproductive and child health outcomes. First, this dissertation examines the potential role of girl child marriage as a mediating factor in the associations between proximity to conflict and intimate partner violence in Sri Lanka; finding that residing in districts central to conflict (compared to districts distal to conflict) is associated with increased odds of girl child marriage and all forms of intimate partner violence, and that child marriage is a partial mediator of the association between centrality to conflict and all forms of intimate partner violence. Second, this dissertation examines how girl child marriage and intimate partner violence are associated with women's contraceptive method type, and how proximity to conflict moderates those relationships; finding that girl child marriage, physical IPV, and proximity to conflict are associated with differences in contraceptive method type, and that proximity to conflict moderates the associations of girl child marriage and physical IPV with contraceptive method type. Third, this dissertation explores whether maternal child marriage and intimate partner violence in Sri Lanka are associated with stunting (low height for age) among children ages 0-5 in Sri Lanka, and whether proximity to conflict moderates those relationships; finding that children in districts proximal and central to conflict experience reduced stunting compared to children in districts distal to conflict, and that proximity to conflict moderates associations of maternal sexual IPV and maternal emotional IPV with stunting. The findings of this dissertation advance the study of gender-based violence (GBV) and health in post-conflict Sri Lanka and add to the global literature on the health and social impacts of armed conflict.