Gender-based violence (GBV) is one of the most prevalent human rights violations without considering social, economic, age, ethnicity, religion and national boundaries, and which affects the health, dignity, security and autonomy of women. This study employed a cross sectional, mixed methods research design. The study was carried out in two secondary schools at Debre Markos town Amhara regional state, Ethiopia, an area in the country where GBV is widely prevalent. To take a representative sample, multistage sampling techniques were employed. The quantitative data was analyzed through descriptive statistics and the qualitative data analyzed through narrative analysis. 21.7% male and 78.3% female students within the range of 15-20 years were included in the study, and the mean age of the respondents was 17.51 years. Among the total number of the study participants, 58.3% faced different forms of GBV. However, 67.1% of GBV was committed outside the school community, 19.5% by schoolmates, and 13.4% by teachers and other staff. Of the total number of the respondents, 39.2% had a sexual partner. The mean age at which the respondents started their first sexual intercourse was 16.49 years, and 52.9% participate in unsafe sex. 45.8% of the respondents were unable to negotiate when and how to have sex with their sexual partner. The age of the respondents and their tendency to be affected by GBV (n= 120, r=.327, p=.000) had a weak positive correlation. Their age and their tendency to have more than one sexual partner at a time had a weak negative correlation (n=120, r=-.055). Among the study participants, 96.7% reported that friends or strangers pushed, shook or threw something at them, 75% were slapped, and 65.8% had their arms twisted or hair pulled. Responding to such physical violence has its own challenges, such as the female students not knowing the males who threaten them, not knowing their addresses, a lack of eye witnesses, and a fear of reporting.

Note on the Author

Zelalem Desalegne received his MA degree in Gender and Development Studies from Bahir Dar University in July 2012. In September 2012 he joined Haramaya University. He has taken and offered trainings related to gender. His research interests include gender and leadership, empowerment, migration, and harmful traditional practices. Currently, in addition to teaching and learning, he is effectively serving the university as Academic Planning and Staff Affairs team leader.