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Using Social Media to Recruit Seldom-Heard Groups: Reaching Women and Girls with Experience of Violence in Iran

Hashemi, L. ORCID: 0000-0001-6449-3834, Babakhani, F., Aghtaie, N. & McManus, S. ORCID: 0000-0003-2711-0819 (2024). Using Social Media to Recruit Seldom-Heard Groups: Reaching Women and Girls with Experience of Violence in Iran. Social Sciences, 13(5), article number 246. doi: 10.3390/socsci13050246


Social media recruitment and online surveys are valuable tools in social science research, but their effectiveness in reaching seldom-heard victims of gender violence in low-middle income (LMI) countries is under-explored. This empirical study aims to: (1) describe violence and abuse experiences and (2) assess the benefits and limitations of using social media to document violence against women and girls (VAWGs) in a LMI country to render visible the experiences of potentially isolated victims. A total of 453 Iranian women (aged 14–59, mean = 28.8, SD = 8.04) responded to an Instagram invitation for a study on women’s health and violence exposure from February 2020 to January 2022. The questionnaire covered general gendered abuse, domestic violence (DV), and forced unemployment. The analysis was performed using Stata 17. Nearly all participants reported abuse, including sexual (85.0%), psychological (83.4%), and technology-facilitated (57.4%) abuse, with 77.4% experiencing multiple forms. The street (62%) and home (52.8%) were common abuse locations. The perpetrators included known individuals (75.9%) and strangers (80.8%), with 56.7% reporting abuse by both. DV was reported by 72.6%, mainly involving psychological (73.1%), physical (53.4%), and/or sexual (17.2%) violence, with fathers (47.8%), husbands (42.7%), and brothers (40.2%) as frequent perpetrators. A quarter reported forced unemployment. Those experiencing DV and/or forced unemployment showed higher depression levels, suicidal ideation, and lower marital satisfaction. The study suggests using social media recruitment for VAWG research but cautions against overgeneralising from these data.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2024 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Publisher Keywords: social media recruitment; violence against women and girls; gender-based violence; seldom-heard groups; victims of violence; online survey; Iran
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs
School of Policy & Global Affairs > Violence and Society Centre
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