Attitudes towards Violence against Women in Kuwait

Article excerpt

This study reports on attitudes of a sample of 474 college-educated Kuwaiti citizens towards violence against women. Four constructs were examined, namely: 1) social aspects of violence against women; 2) socio-economic status/educational aspects of violence against women; 3) preventive indicators of violence against women and; 4) physical aspects of violence against women. Evidence regarding the reliability and validity of the instrument designed to measure the four outcome measures are reported. The findings showed a general disagreement with actions and/or attitudes that may reflect violence against women. Attitudinal differences due to participants' gender and place of birth were noted. Specifically, compared to men, women were in more disagreement concerning violence against women. Although differences between rural and urban participants were statistically significant, examination of the strength of the observed differences (effect sizes) suggested that the practical significance was limited. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Interest in attitudes towards women and in measuring such attitudes goes back many decades. In the early 1970s and 1980s, a number of studies were conducted to assess attitudes about the rights and roles of women in major areas.1 These areas include: 1) vocational, educational, and intellectual roles; 2) the acceptability of various dating and etiquette behaviors for men and women; 3) the issue of premarital sex; and 4) attitudes towards marital relationships and obligations.2

Research in the area of attitudes towards women has continued,3 although the perspective from which such research is conducted varies.4 In the 1980s, researchers addressed generational differences, occupational preferences, women at work, and gender relationships.5 In the 1990s, the attention paid to attitudes towards women broadened.6 The emphasis on violence was consistent with the media attention given to violent incidences.7

Violence against women is a global epidemic.8 Abuse by intimate male partners, known as domestic violence, and coerced sex have been studied in several countries and are two of the most common forms of violence against women.9

Research on violence against women in all its forms continues to attract attention all over the world, as it has been a global problem.10 In New Zealand, for example, 20% of women reported having been hit or physically abused by a male partner. In Switzerland, 20% of women reported having been physically assaulted.11 In the United Kingdom, 25% of women had been punched or slapped by a partner or ex-partner in their lifetime.12 In Korea, 38% of wives reported being physically abused by their spouse in the previous year.13 In Egypt, 35% of women reported being beaten by their husband at some point in their marriage.14 In Nicaragua, 52% of women reported being physically abused by a partner at least once.15 In Mexico, 30% of women reported at least one episode of physical violence by a partner. Physical assault also has been widespread among women in the US. In short, violence against women is not confined to any particular political or economic system, but found in every society in the world.16

Violence against women takes many forms and can be perpetuated in a number of ways, and even simultaneously.17 At least one in three women, or up to one billion women, have been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetime. Domestic violence occurs in one half of all American homes at least once a year. A woman is battered, usually by her husband/partner, every 15 seconds. Over 30% of murdered women are killed by a partner. Indeed, about two per week are killed by their partners. Usually, the abuser is a member of her own family or someone known to her.18

The above examples suggest that between 16% and 52% of women were assaulted by an intimate partner. But, despite the prevalence of violence against women worldwide, this problem has received relatively little attention from researchers in the Arab world,19 in general, and in Kuwait, in particular. …