Working Paper

Gender Trap: The gender structure, violence, and women’s unfreedom

Published: 2023

The aim of this research was to deepen our understanding of how gender-based violence functions as a mechanism of disadvantage in women’s lives. Through improving this understanding, we aim to help draw attention to key sites and opportunities for disrupting this process.

Our study found strong evidence for the existence of a “gender trap”, whereby violence victimization increases women’s risks of being in deep multidimensional disadvantage, and deep disadvantage increases the risk of further victimization. For some women, exposure to gender-based violence begins in childhood, and can lead to women getting caught in the gender trap in adulthood.

Our findings indicate that a concerted and systemic approach is needed to eradicate gender-based violence. Further research is needed to identify the most effective policy and practice solutions for achieving this.


Campbell, A., Kuskoff, E., & Baxter, J. (2023). ‘Gender Trap: The gender structure, violence, and women’s unfreedom’, Life Course Centre Working Paper Series, 2023-14. Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland.