Child marriage (before age 18) is a risk factor for intimate partner violence (IPV) against women. Worldwide, Bangladesh has the highest prevalence of IPV and very early child marriage (before age 15). How the community prevalence of very early child marriage influences a woman’s risk of IPV is unknown. Using panel data (2013–2014) from 3,355 women first married 4–12 years prior in 77 Bangladeshi villages, we tested the protective effect of a woman’s later first marriage (at age 18 or older), the adverse effect of a higher village prevalence of very early child marriage, and whether any protective effect of a woman’s later first marriage was diminished or reversed in villages where very early child marriage was more prevalent. Almost one-half (44.5 %) of women reported incident physical IPV, and 78.9 % had married before age 18. The village-level incidence of physical IPV ranged from 11.4 % to 75.0 %; the mean age at first marriage ranged from 14.8 to 18.0 years. The mean village-level prevalence of very early child marriage ranged from 3.9 % to 51.9 %. In main-effects models, marrying at 18 or later protected against physical IPV, and more prevalent very early child marriage before age 15 was a risk factor. The interaction of individual later marriage and the village prevalence of very early child marriage was positive; thus, the likely protective effect of marrying later was negated in villages where very early child marriage was prevalent. Collectively reducing very early child marriage may be needed to protect women from IPV.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This article was drafted when Dr. Crandall was a post-doctoral fellow in the Hubert Department of Global Health at Emory University. We thank Md. Mahfuz Al Mamun for his leadership of the data collection and data management for the survey component of this project. We also thank the field team and the participants, without whom this project would not have been possible. Authors appear in the order of contribution. Kathryn M. Yount developed the idea for this article, supervised the data analysis, drafted most of the paper, and edited for critical content. AliceAnn Crandall performed most of the data analysis, drafted parts of the article, and edited for critical content. Yuk Fai Cheong finalized the data analysis, drafted parts of the article, and edited for critical content. Theresa L. Osypuk, Lisa M. Bates, and Ruchira T. Naved drafted parts of the article, and Sidney Ruth Schuler revised the article for critical content. This work was supported by research Grant 1R01HD061630-01A1 (PI Schuler) and the Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, at Emory University.
© 2016, Population Association of America.
- Child marriage
- Intimate partner violence
- Multilevel analysis