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The Prevalence and Widespread Justification of Domestic Violence in Developing Countries

One of the issues that is present throughout the world is that a lot of women are experiencing different forms of violence. / Photo by: Getty Images

 

Violence against women is becoming more prevalent across the globe. Every day, a number of women experience different forms of violence including rape, forced marriage, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, murder, and assault. This issue is one of the most pressing throughout the world. In fact, recent statistics by the Battered Women's Support Services showed that one in three women are reported to have been abused or subjected to gender-based violence. About 40 to 70% of female murder victims in Canada, Australia, South Africa, Israel, and the United States were killed by their intimate partners. 

Additionally, about 50% of young girls are victims of sexual assault across the globe. Over 60 million girls are being forced into marriages against their will especially in Asia, the Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. Women who are victims of forced labor, prostitution, slavery or servitude have already increased by 2.5 million. These numbers show that millions of women's lives including their families are being torn apart by violence. 

The Prevalence of Domestic Violence

Violence has been a major problem in our society for a long time now. But violence against women is continually increasing in both developed and developing countries -- especially domestic violence. A global issue, it was later on associated with socio-economic, cultural, racial, and class distinctions. Unfortunately, domestic violence came to be a typical and accepted behavior in many cultures. 

Domestic violence not only affects one's physical health but also affects one mentally, emotionally and psychologically. According to a study conducted by Ravneet Kaur and Suneela Garg titled "Addressing Domestic Violence Against Women: An Unfinished Agenda" published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, domestic violence "can be described as the power misused by one adult in a relationship to control another. It is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other forms of abuse." 

This kind of violence is an old phenomenon. Women, up until now, are considered vulnerable and weak. These stereotypes have led some people to think that it's okay for them to be exploited. Human culture has made women believe that domestic violence is something that should happen to women. In a patriarchal society, women are often poorly equipped to protect themselves. 

Moreover, research has shown that women who have suffered this kind of violence suffer major impacts from the trauma on their overall well-being. This includes suffering from serious consequences to their reproductive and sexual health such as gynecological problems, injuries, temporary or permanent disabilities, mental health such as depression, and suicide.

Domestic Violence in Developing Countries

A recent study conducted by LynnMarie Sardinha and Héctor E. Nájera Catalán titled "Attitudes towards domestic violence in 49 low- and middle-income countries: A gendered analysis of prevalence and country-level correlates" found that about 36% of people in developing countries justified the use of domestic violence in certain situations. 

The researchers analyzed the data of 1.17 million men and women from the Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 2005-2017. The surveys aimed to find the perspective of people towards domestic violence with questions such as whether a husband or partner should hurt his wife when she argues with him, neglects the children, or is unfaithful. Results showed that domestic violence is more socially accepted in most developing countries. Of the 49 countries, only 3% justified domestic violence in the Caribbean and the Dominican Republic, while 83% justified the act in Timor-Leste and South East Asia.

Additionally, the study showed that overall acceptance of domestic violence was highest in South Asia by 47%, with Sub-Saharan Africa at 38%, Latin America and the Caribbean at 12%, and Europe and Central Asia at 29%. The findings revealed that those countries who justified domestic violence had experienced extreme political conflict in the past five years. People in countries who were less likely to justify the act were found to have more economic rights for women. This serves as a challenge to expand women's economic rights and existing gender stereotypes and roles. 

ESRC Research Fellow in Domestic Violence and Health at the University of Bristol, Dr. LynnMarie Sardinha, said that this study is the first to tackle how people in multiple countries perceive domestic violence. This study found that the widespread justification in most developing countries has legitimized domestic violence as a way to discipline women.

According to Science Daily, the researchers also emphasized the need to create or develop geographically-differentiated and gender-specific interventions in combating domestic violence. However, developing countries who mostly justified the act and have been severely affected by the political climate should be on the focus. This also shows the necessity of having international domestic violence prevention policies to protect women at all costs. "Domestic violence has serious consequences for women's physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health, negatively impacts on the well-being of children and families and has implications for wider society's economic and social development," Dr. Sardinha added.

 

Domestic violence negatively affects women's physical, mental sexual and reproductive health. / Photo by: Karel Miragaya via 123rf

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