The Australian Government’s Nabilan (Ending Violence Against Women and Children) Program in Timor-Leste

Violence against children in Timor-Leste and consequences on adult health and exposure to adversity

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The Equality Institute (EQI) was engaged by Nabilan to conduct a Secondary Data Analysis of Nabilan Baseline Survey Data looking at violence against children in Timor-Leste and its consequences of adult health and experiences, and perpetration, of violence in adulthood.

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Violence against children (VAC) and violence against women (VAW) are interconnected social problems in Timor-Leste. VAC is widespread in Timor-Leste and carries significant consequences for adult health and family well-being.

This study shows that childhood trauma and violence against women intersect in a number of important ways. Men’s experiences of childhood trauma were associated with their perpetration of all measured forms of intimate partner violence. Women who have experienced any type of childhood trauma are at increased risk of experiencing violence by intimate partners in adulthood.

1 in 4 women (25%) reported experiencing childhood sexual abuse. Men who experienced violence during children were 9 times more likely to perpetrate emotional intimate partner violence against a female partner compared to men who did not experience violence as a child.


The Secondary Data Analysis of Nabilan Baseline Survey Data was conducted by EQI for Nabilan, in consultation with DFAT. A summary report, policy brief, and two evidence briefs were created in both English and Tetun, for policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and donors. The full report is available only in English.


The Nabilan Health and Life Experiences Baseline Survey is a household survey with women and men in Timor-Leste on their experiences and perpetration of violence during their lives. Adult women and men reported on their childhood experiences of violence, as well as their experiences of violence and their health as adults.

Using this data, the Secondary Data Analysis looked at violence against children in Timor-Leste and how it is related to women’s experiences, and men’s perpetration, of violence, as well as women’s and men’s health, in adulthood.

This study shows that VAC and VAW intersect in a number of important ways and can no longer be understood as totally separate issues. This has implications for prevention practice to end both forms of violence, which would benefit from a meaningful integrated approach.

Four priority areas for the reduction of child maltreatment and prompting healthy, stable, and safe childhoods were outlined as integral to reducing violence in adulthood in Timor-Leste.

Priorities when taking an intersectional approach to the prevention of sexual violence against children. 1: Tailored programs responding to the needs of boys and girls at different lifecycle stages. 2: Approaches which take into account other risk factors, including disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. 3: Holistic approaches which address all forms of violence against children (VAC). 4: Approaches which recognise the intersections between violence against women and girls and VAC.


In the Asia-Pacific region, between 40-66% of children have been hit, slapped, pinched, or beaten on the backside. In Timor-Leste, other literature suggests that one in four children under the age of four are left alone or in the care of a child younger than 10, and one in three women reported physical intimate partner violence by a male partner in the past year.

VAC and VAW are often addressed as separate problems, however, they are closely related. The same factors that increase children’s risk of violence also increase women’s risk of violence. For these reasons, it is important to understand the connections between VAC and VAW, as well as outline ways we can reduce child maltreatment and promote healthy, stable, and safe childhoods in Timor-Leste.