New Report: Domestic Violence Acceptance in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Saturday, November 17, 2018 9:30 AM

A recent study out of the University of Bristol provides insight into the acceptance of and justifications for tolerating high rates of domestic violence in 49 low- and middle-income countries. A higher rate of acceptance of domestic violence is directly correlated with a higher rate of perpetration and victimization. Respondents provided numerous reasons when a husband may be justified in beating his wife, including:

  • A woman going out without telling her husband
  • A woman arguing with her husband
  • A woman being perceived as neglecting her children
  • A man suspecting his wife of being unfaithful
  • A woman refusing to have sex
  • A woman burning the food

In 36 of the 49 countries—primarily in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa—women were more likely than men to justify the behavior. The researchers noted that women’s acceptance of domestic violence can be explained in part by the theory of “patriarchal bargaining,”  where women internalize the idea that their abusive husband is exercising a right of his that is ultimately beneficial to her and that domestic violence constitutes as a legitimate form of discipline.

Individuals living in countries that experience severe instability—especially if the instability occurred within the past 5 years—were more likely to accept higher rates of domestic violence. Conversely, acceptance was lower in countries that had democratic political regimes. Notably, commonly used indicators of gender equality such as employment and political participation did not have much of an impact on the acceptance that women have of domestic violence.


Compiled from: LynnMarie Sardinha & Héctor E. Nájera Catalán, Attitudes towards Domestic Violence in 49 Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Gendered Analysis of Prevalence and Country-Level Correlates, 13(10) PLoS One (2018); Domestic Violence is Widely Accepted in Most Developing Countries, New Study Reveals, University of Bristol (November 1, 2018).