Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

81% of girls in this country think domestic violence is justified

A worrying number of young girls believe domestic violence is sometimes justified. Image: REUTERS/Lirio Da Fonseca

Stéphanie Thomson
Writer, Forum Agenda
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Gender Inequality

Is intimate partner violence ever acceptable? Almost 40 years after the United Nations committed to ending violence against women in all its forms, the answer to that question should be a resounding no. But according to a new UN report, that’s far from the reality.

In Timor Leste, 81% of teenage girls believe a husband is justified in beating his wife for at least one reason. The figures were slightly lower for other countries in the region, but still attest to a worrying trend. In India, Pakistan and Bhutan, for example, over 50% of girls think domestic violence is acceptable in some circumstances.

Interestingly, the report found that while many teenage boys in the Asia-Pacific region had similar attitudes to domestic violence, they were less likely to condone it: between 25% and 51% said that wife beating was justified in some situations.

According to the report, which covers a range of issues related to the sexual health of young people in Asia-Pacific, low levels of education, unemployment and a family history of violence are all linked to acceptance of domestic violence.

The findings back up data from the World’s Women 2015, which revealed a shockingly high acceptance rate for domestic violence. In Ethiopia – where as many as 71% of women have been victims of domestic violence – 68.4% of women said intimate partner violence was acceptable in some circumstances, and 47.3% thought a husband should be allowed to beat his wife if she burns the food while cooking.

But there is room for hope. When UN analysts cross-referenced the latest global data against the findings from previous years, they found that almost everywhere, attitudes are slowly but surely changing: “In almost all countries where information for more than one year is available, the level of both women’s and men’s acceptance of violence decreased over time.”

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