A recent study in the APHA Journal shows a strong link between intimate partner violence (IPV) and child stunting and underweight. In Bangladesh, 29% of women had experienced IPV in the past year. Those who had experience IPV (as compared to those who had not) were 59% more likely to have a stunted child and 33% more likely to have an underweight child. Previous studies found that IPV was associated with a lot of other negative child health outcomes. (And earlier DHS studies have shown a strong link between signs of gender based violence [e.g., accepting attitudes about it] and child mortality rates.) So in addition to being a horrible and intolerable experience for women, we now have clear data showing a link between IPV and very negative child health outcomes, including stunting. In addition to talking about the benefits to women, we need to increasingly focus on eliminating IPV and maternal depression if we want to see positive food security and other child health outcomes. The good news is that there are effective methods for decreasing both IPV and maternal depression. Methods for decreasing IPV will be part of the Food for the Hungry trainings over the next few years. While effective community-based methods for decreasing maternal depression (e.g., Interpersonal Therapy for Group ) will not be a part of the FH trainings, we hope to produce modules on those interventions, as well. I also expect that some of our work in changing worldview and pulling more women together into groups will have a measurable impact on maternal depression, adding to our ability to combat malnutrition.
“Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
God calls us to a life of hope, and part of that means that we need to help people to prevent and deal with the situations that lead to despair and depression — like intimate partner violence — as well as the consequences of that for families.”