PLoS One 2016 28;11(11):e0167438. Epub 2016 Nov 28.
Jean Hailes Research Unit, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Background: Violence against women perpetrated by an intimate partner (IPV) is prevalent in low- and middle-income countries (LAMIC). The aim was to describe the attitudes of women and men towards perpetration of physical violence to women by an intimate partner, in a large group of low- and middle-income countries.
Methods And Findings: We used data from Round Four of the UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys. Attitudes towards IPV against women were assessed by a study-specific scale asking if 'wife beating' is justified in any of five circumstances. Overall, data from 39 countries (all had data from women and 13 countries also had data from men) were included in the analyses. The proportions of women who held attitudes that 'wife-beating' was justified in any of the five circumstances varied widely among countries from 2.0% (95% CI 1.7;2.3) in Argentina to 90.2% (95% CI 88.9;91.5) in Afghanistan. Similarly, among men it varied from 5.0% (95% CI 4.0;6.0) in Belarus to 74.5% (95% CI 72.5;76.4) in the Central African Republic. The belief that 'wife-beating' is acceptable was most common in Africa and South Asia, and least common in Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean. In general this belief was more common among people in disadvantaged circumstances, including being a member of a family in the lowest household wealth quintile, living in a rural area and having limited formal education. Young adults were more likely to accept physical abuse by a man of his intimate partner than those who were older, but people who had never partnered were less likely to have these attitudes.
Conclusions: Violence against women is an international priority and requires a multicomponent response. These data provide evidence that strategies should include major public education programs to change attitudes about the acceptability of IPV against women, and that these should be addressed to women and girls as well as to boys and men.