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Journal of Interpersonal Violence

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Gender-based violence (GBV) is a significant issue for youth in Guyana, particularly among young women. Yet, discussions about sex, dating, and violence rarely occur at the community level. To understand the heightened risk for GBV with youth in Guyana, we utilized a critical qualitative design to explore adolescent dating violence with adolescents (14–16 years old), parents, and school officials in a public secondary school in Guyana. In total, 36 racially and religiously diverse participants from low to middle-income households participated in focus groups (n = 30) and interviews (n = 6). Discussions centered on dating in adolescence; community awareness of dating violence; gender, racialization, and class in relation to dating violence; and dating violence prevention in schools and family settings. Our results revealed that heteronormative, adversarial gender roles in Guyana are enacted in adolescent relationships in ways that contribute to violence. Two important factors emerged in relation to femininity: female respectability related to sexuality; and the relationship between clothing, sexuality, and social class. Masculinity for adolescent boys was centered on reproducing normative assumptions about femininity and explaining the use of violence through pathologizing race. Participants were also asked to identify gender roles that adolescent boys and girls should embody in relationships, which revealed possibilities for overcoming adversarial roles in relationships. We propose that adolescent GBV prevention initiatives consider long-standing and deeply embedded ideas within gender norms that are connected to sexuality, class, and race. Without accounting for these systemic factors, GBV prevention initiatives and programs may inadvertently perpetuate traditional definitions of masculinity and femininity that contribute to violence.

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Rodney, R., Gastaldo, D., Trotz, A., & Crooks, C. V. (2021). Sex as boys' fame, but girls' shame: Adversarial gender roles and gender-based violence in Guyana. Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

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