Two in five women experience partner violence

More than two in every five women experienced one or more forms of partner violence in their lifetime, according to a study the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) conducted.

The study, conducted in 2017, was released yesterday at the National Textile Festival organised to commemorate the International Women’s Day.

The violence, according to the study is physical, sexual, psychological or economic.

It also stated that one in three women experienced any types of violence in the last 12 months. “Controlling behaviours are the most commonly reported form of violence followed by emotional, physical, economic and then sexual violence.

The report consisted of two parts, a quantitative component with a sample of 2,189 households from both urban and rural parts of the country from the three regions of east, west and central and a qualitative, involving in-depth interviews with female survivors of violence, focus group discussions with men and women, key informant interviews such as representatives from government, local leaders and civil society organisations working on the issue.

It found that 13.9 percent of women reported experiencing physical violence by an intimate partner, which is referred to as ‘lifetime prevalence’ and 5.1 experienced it in the last 12 months referred as ‘current prevalence’.

It also found that women aged between 25 and 29 years had the highest current prevalence of physical violence, at 7.8 percent.

The most common act of physical violence, according to the study, was being slapped or having something thrown at the women followed by being pushed or shoved.

A 26-year-old violence survivor reported that it happened weekly because every time there was a problem, they did not talk for three to four days and when they started talking, he beat her.

Another survivor, a 32-year-old woman said she has been to the hospital many times because of cuts, injuries and bleeding. “He even came to my office and beat me in public.”

She told surveyors that when a neighbour called police because of the disturbance in their home, the husband blamed her although he knew she was right in front of him and in no position to ask help from anyone.

The report also stated that 4.5 percent of women experienced sexual violence by partners in their lifetime and 2.5 percent experienced it in the last 12 months. Lifetime sexual violence by partners was highest among women aged 20-24 years and the current prevalence was highest amongst women aged 20-24 years.

The most common act of sexual partner violence was being forced to have sexual intercourse when the woman did not want to, which was experienced by 3.6 percent and 3.5 percent had to consent out of fear.

The study found that 39.7 percent women experience psychological abuse by partners and 27 percent in the last 12 months, which includes verbal, demeaning in public, monitoring and controlling their movement besides physical violence.

A respondent, who had a Master’s degree and working in a corporate employee said her husband used to criticise her way of dressing and physic.

It was found that 10.9 percent of women experienced at least one form of economic violence in their lifetime, which includes prohibiting women from getting a job and earning money, taking women’s earnings or properties against their will, refusing to give money for household expenses. The prevalence was higher among women without income.

The study also found that women and girls with a disability reported experiencing a higher rate of physical and sexual partner violence and emotional violence.

It also stated that one in five experienced sex for the first time at ages between 15 and 17 and three percent reported having first sexual intercourse aged below 15.

Six percent of women also reported to have had first sexual experience forced upon them and 13 percent had sex when they did not want to. “Rates of forced sex were highest in the eastern region at 10 percent and lowest in central at 2.5 percent.

The survey showed that 53.4 percent of women agreed that a man was justified in hitting his wife for one or more reasons like if the wife didn’t take care of children, being unfaithful or on suspicion of being unfaithful, wife questioning husband about extramarital affairs, wife refusing sex, wife disobeying husbands and not completing housework.

“The most commonly mentioned reason to justify physical violence was if the wife was unfaithful,” the report stated.

It also stated that women who experienced physical or sexual partner violence were more likely to report that their children have behavioural issues such as nightmares, bedwetting, being withdrawn, quietness, aggressiveness, failing or dropping out of school than those who did not.

The study recommended having enabling environment, awareness and behaviour change, improve service to women and girls and families and conduct further secondary analysis and research.

Tashi Dema

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