Academic journal article Violence and Victims

Married Women's Justification of Intimate Partner Violence in Bangladesh: Examining Community Norm and Individual-Level Risk Factors

Academic journal article Violence and Victims

Married Women's Justification of Intimate Partner Violence in Bangladesh: Examining Community Norm and Individual-Level Risk Factors

Article excerpt

One-third of the women worldwide experience intimate partner violence (IPV) that increases their vulnerability to both short- and long-term physical, sexual, reproductive, and mental health problems. Surprisingly, IPV is justified by many women globally. Although the IPV literature to date is mostly focused on risk factors associated with actual occurrences, little is known on attitudinal acceptance of such violence. Also, despite the growing scholarship of community influence and health link, IPV research has relatively overlooked the effects of norms at the community level. Using a representative national sample of 13,611 married women in Bangladesh, this study examined the association of community attitudes and women's individual attitudes toward wife beating. The results revealed that women living in communities with permissive attitudes toward wife beating were more likely to justify husbands' beating (OR = 4.5). Women married at a younger age, who had less than primary-level education, lived in households categorized as poor or middle class, and did not consume media appeared to be at higher risk for justifying wife beating. This research adds to a growing research body on community influences on health by examining IPV attitudes and community norms link.

Keywords: intimate partner violence (IPV); attitudinal acceptance of violence; women in Bangladesh; community influence; domestic violence

One-third of the women worldwide experience intimate partner violence (IPV) that increases their vulnerability to both short- and long-term physical, sexual, reproductive, and mental health problems (World Health Organization [WHO], 2013). A WHO multicountry analysis shows that physical or sexual IPV ever reported by currently married women ranges from 17% in the Dominican Republic to 75% in Bangladesh (Hindin, Kishor, & Ansara, 2008). Surprisingly, IPV is justified by many women globally. For example, 41% women in Turkey, 40% in Zimbabwe, and 46% women in Cambodia agree with husbands' beating on account of minor violations of their socially determined responsibilities such as burning food, arguing with husbands, mismanaging money, neglecting children, or refusing sex (Marshall & Furr, 2010; United Nations Children's Fund [UNICEF], 2013). Although IPV victims are not responsible for their own victimization, attitudes justifying IPV may be associated with the likelihood of being victimized (Linos, Slopen, Subramanian, Berkman, & Kawachi, 2013; Okenwa, Lawoko, & Jansson, 2009; Waltermaurer, 2012). For example, in a multicountry study, Kishor and Johnson (2004) found that in each of the eight countries, women who agreed that husbands are justified to beat the wife in specific circumstances, were more likely to report ever experiencing violence. Sadly, most of these women suffer abuse silently and tend not to seek help because they are embarrassed, afraid, accept abuse as a part of life, or think that the help would be of no use.

Literature on IPV identifies women's sociodemographic and other individual characteristics as risk factors. Women who are younger, have little or no education, currently married, poor, unemployed, and from rural communities are more likely to justify violence (Hindin, 2003; Lawoko, 2006; Waltermaurer, 2012). Women with more resources may have more power in their relationship and may be more likely to find beating by their husband unacceptable. Or they may just have the means to influence their husband more, whereas women with fewer resources may also find it unacceptable (Bates, Schuler, Islam, & Islam, 2004; Yount & Li, 2009). Although there is evidence that women empowerment may result in a reduction of IPV (Kim et al., 2007), the positive association is not supported universally. This association may be context specific, that is, the positive relationship of autonomy and IPV only holds in less gender-stratified regions (Sabarwal, Santhya, & Jejeebhoy, 2014). Studies from Bangladesh, for example, found that in the more conservative regions, women's memberships in credit and savings groups, which indicate greater autonomy, were associated with elevated risks for violence against them. …

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