Baseline data collection has begun for cluster randomised control trial to assess whether the Stepping Stones and Creating Futures intervention can reduce men’s perpetration and women’s experience of intimate partner violence (IPV) in urban informal settlements in Durban. Baseline data collection will stretch into 2016 in 32 informal settlements, with a total of 1280 young people recruited into the study. HEARD researcher and the principal investigator on the project Dr Andrew Gibbs said “There’s growing evidence that strengthening women’s economic autonomy and transforming gender relationships can reduce women’s experience of IPV, but these studies have primarily been amongst older women. This is one of the few working with this age group and in such challenging contexts.”

Urban informal settlements have high rates of IPV and research shows the impact of IPV on women’s health and wellbeing is huge, alongside being a violation of their human rights. From their pilot study, researchers found that approximately 81% of young men reported perpetrating IPV in their lifetime and 32% reported perpetrating non-partner sexual violence in their life. As the team’s work has emphasised, these high rates of IPV cannot be separated from the extreme levels of economic, social and political marginalisation and everyday violence that young people experience in informal settlements.

The Stepping Stones and Creating Futures intervention trial is a collaborative project with Project Empower, and the South African Medical Research Council. Final results of the project will be in 2018. The trial is funded through the UKAid global programme, What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls.