ViolenceGender based violence occurs in every country and culture, and is embedded in social and cultural norms and attitudes. The prevalence and forms of violence in low- and middle-income countries may vary from those in higher-income countries, although the health consequences are similar across all settings. The health consequences of violence can be immediate, long-lasting, or fatal. Physical, mental, and behavioral health effects can also continue long after the violence has stopped. It has a significant impact not only on the lives of the victims, but also their families, and communities. Therefore, gender based violence causes a significant global health problem that requires urgent and continued research in this area.

Ongoing projects


Ragging is a form of Gender Based Violence seen in higher educational institutions. It is an "initiation ritual" practiced in universities in South Asian countries, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Ragging involves abuse, humiliation or harassment of new entrants or junior students by their seniors. It often takes a malignant form wherein the newcomers may be subjected to psychological, physical, or sexual violence. Initially ragging was seen to be a means of increasing the bonds of friendship between the senior students and the new comers to the institution and a way to get to know each other by performing simple tasks. This practice has since escalated from its original form into a harmful practice which can result in severe health consequences. This has become a significant public health problem and claimed the lives of several innocent students. Although the government and the university administrations wish to bring an end to ragging at universities, Sri Lanka lacks baseline data, to assist in planning and implementing interventions to curb ragging. 

Research Questions

  • What is the prevalence of different forms of ragging among students?
  • What is the health consequences of ragging?
  • What is the help seeking behavior of the students who have been exposed to ragging?
  • What are the perceptions of the lecturers, counsellors, and students on ragging?

Birgitta Essén, Professor
Pia Axemo, Associate Professor
Ayanthi Wickramasinghe, PhD student
Rajendra Surenthirakumaran, PhD, University of Jaffna 
Kumudu Wijewardana, Professor, University of Sri Jayawardenapura

Location: Sri Lanka

Understanding Fathers’ Roles in Addressing Urban Child Malnutrition in Addis Ababa: a Qualitative Study

In many major African cities the rural to urban migrations are increasing, contributing to high unemployment, increased poverty and above all food and shelter insecurity. According to the UN report on World Urbanization Prospects (2014) it is predicted that by 2050, half of Africa’s population will live in major cities. Affordable shelter and food security are basic human requirements and are challenged in rapidly expanding cities. Rapid urbanization contributes to homelessness and malnutrition, implicated in many health problems, affecting children in particular. Malnutrition is currently responsible for half of all the deaths of children under five, worldwide (UNICEF 2016).

Food acquisition in these changing times and the gendered roles in procurement of nutritional food in low income countries remains insufficiently studied and is essential information to inform policies being developed to mitigate the emerging problems associated with rapid urbanization. Most child nutrition and intervention research assumes the mother as the key figure. Despite the complex care involved in domestic “foodwork” (defined   as the complex practice of planning, purchasing, storing, preparing food and cleaning up afterwards), one may miss important support for childrens’ wellbeing by focusing only upon mothers. The role that men play in the provision of food for their children, in urban Africa, has been almost entirely overlooked in public health research.

The aim of this study is to explore the experiences of fathers and their roles in food procurement and provision, as it relates to nutritional security for children in the urban context of Addis Ababa, using qualitative exploratory in-depth interview methodology enhanced by photo elicitation.

Research Questions:

  • How do fathers see their role within the family; what are their expectations of mothers?
  • What are the daily activities of fathers; how do they spend their time?
  • What does it means to be a “man” in this context?
  • How do fathers view child (mal)nourishment?

Jill Trenholm, PhD
Hanna Berhane, PhD student
Eva-Charlotte Ekström, Professor
Yemane Berhane, Professor
Gabriele Griffin, Professor and Director, Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University

Location: Ethiopia

Funding: Indevelop

Earlier projects


A participatory study to plan and test an educational program on GBV at the University Sri Jayewardenepura, Colombo, Sri Lanka. Studies in Sri Lanka has shown that university students have poor understanding of gender, GBV, its' prevalence, contributing factors and possible preventive measures.

An educational program was prepared and evaluated in order to later introduce a computerized or live program accessible to all students and teachers at the University Sri Jayewardenepura and other universities in Sri Lanka.

Questionnaires before and after finalizing the program was analysed, as well as Focus Group discussions with teachers and students.

The context specific teaching material was well-received by educators and students and they provided valuable inputs which improved the learning material.


‘Gender’ is defined by WHO as ‘the socially constructed roles, behaviour, activities and attributes that a particular society considers appropriate for men and women’. The distinct roles and behavior may give rise to gender inequality, which are differences between men and women that systematically favor one group. Such inequalities build up the foundation for gender related issues such as gender based violence (GBV), social, economic and health inequalities between men and women. Partner violence is the most frequent form of GBV in societies, and efforts are made to get evidence based interventions. The Government in Sri Lanka has adopted several policies around GBV andcalls for service points to provide care to abused women. GBV among ever married women and intimate partner violence (IPV) in Sri Lanka is estimated to be between 20 - 60 percent.

The aim of the study was to explore male future leaders perception on GBV.

The study design was qualitative,content analysis using focus group discussion (FGD) with last year male medical students and last year male students from management faculty.

Four categories emanted: Fixed gender roles, Violence not accepted but exists, Causes of violence, How to prevent violence against women


Thesis: Abeid, Muzdalifat: Improving Health-seeking Behavior and Care among Sexual Violence Survivors in Rural Tanzania, 2015 Full text To DiVA

Thesis: Muganyizi, Projestine, Rape against Women in Tanzania: Studies of Social Reactions and Barriers to Disclosure, 2010 Full text To DiVA

Thesis: Trenholm, Jill. Women Survivors, Lost Children and Traumatized Masculinities: The Phenomena of Rape and War in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Full-text To DiVA

Axemo, Pia; Wijwardena, Kumudu; Fonseka, Ruvani; Cooray, Sharika et al.Training university teachers and students in Sri Lanka on Gender Based Violence: testing of a participatory training program Ingår i MedEdPublisher, 2018. DOI Full text To DiVA