The impact of interventions to reduce risk and incidence of intimate partner violence and sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict states and other humanitarian crises in low and middle income countries: a systematic review

Publication Name

Conflict and Health


Sexual violence and intimate partner violence are exacerbated by armed conflict and other humanitarian crises. This narrative systematic review of evidence for interventions to reduce risk and incidence of sexual and intimate partner violence in conflict, post-conflict and other humanitarian crises, updates and expands our review published in 2013. A search of ten bibliographic databases for publications from January 2011 to May 2020 used database specific key words for sexual/intimate partner violence and conflict/humanitarian crisis. The 18 papers, describing 16 studies were undertaken in conflict/post-conflict settings in 12 countries. Six intervention types were reported: i) personnel; ii) community mobilisation; iii) social norms; iv) economic empowerment; v) empowerment; and vi) survivor responses, with the most common being economic empowerment (n = 7) and gendered social norms interventions (n = 6). Combined interventions were reported in nine papers. Four studies identified non-significant reductions in incidence of sexual/ intimate partner violence, showing an evident positive trend; all four evaluated gendered social norms or economic empowerment singly or in combination. Evidence for improved mental health outcomes was found for some economic empowerment, social norms and survivor interventions. Some evidence of reduced risk of sexual violence and intimate partner violence was identified for all intervention types. Qualitative studies suggest that experiences of social connection are important for women who participate in programming to address sexual and intimate partner violence. Interventions with multiple strategies appear to hold merit. Achieving and demonstrating reduced sexual and intimate partner violence remains challenging in this context. Future research should continue to explore how social norms interventions can be most effectively delivered, including the impact of including mixed and same sex groups. Work is needed with local partners to ensure programs are contextually adapted.

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Article Number


Funding Sponsor

World Health Organization



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