Across all circumstances, and after adjustment for sociodemographic and partnership characteristics, women were more likely to say that wife beating was justified when their husbands/partners had the final say in more household decisions. In contrast, when women reported more decisions being made jointly than individually, they were significantly less likely to say that wife beating was justified.
Dr. Hindin reviewed data from the 1999 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey, a nationally representative survey of 5,907 women between the ages of 15-49 years of age. Respondents were questioned about their work status, highest level of education, age, and the differences or similarities their responses were when compared with their partner.
Previous investigations found that women are at a greater risk of abuse if their husband is of a lower educational or occupational status or if they live in a society that promotes male dominance. Those at the greatest risk of violence are those who have enough education to challenge existing gender norms.
"Gender norms and expectations in Zimbabwe warrant the concern of public health researchers and practitioners. If nothing is done, the next generation of women may be just as likely to believe that wife beating is acceptable behavior since younger women seem to be more accepting of wife beating," said Dr. Hindin. "Interventions that promote joint decision-making might be a promising strategy for increasing women's views towards equality in marriage while promoting men's views that household disputes should be settled with negotiation, not violence."
Contact: Kenna Brigham
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health