Domestic abuse: Male violence against women rises with female employment in many developing countries

Domestic Abuse ResearchDr Zahra Siddique’s study heightens the case for giving women the same access to divorce as men.

By Michelle Kilfoyle.

Conventional economic wisdom suggests that men are less likely to assault their female partners if the women are in employment. This wisdom is based upon evidence from developed countries, however.

Research by Zahra Siddique from the University of Bristol’s School of Economics provides new evidence from developing countries that runs counter to the prevailing view. In a study that could help policymakers cut domestic violence rates around the world, she shows how female empowerment needs to go much further than simply improving women’s employment prospects.

Ending violence against women

Siddique uses economic tools to explore the extent and distribution of male violence towards women, the drivers of the violence and possible policy solutions.  Notably, her research helps fills gaps in researchers’ and policymakers’ understanding of women’s wellbeing in the developing world.

And intimate partner violence (IPV) – that is, domestic violence within an intimate relationship – tends to be higher in low-income countries. Sixty-six per cent of women in Central sub-Saharan Africa and 42% in South Asia say they have experienced IPV. This compares with 28% in Central Europe and 21% in North America, for example.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 for gender equality calls for an end to all forms of violence against women and girls, one of the ‘most pervasive human rights violations in the world’. As highlighted in a 2015 UN report, meeting this target demands a ‘step change in concerted action’.  All factors that drive IPV must be tackled, from the economic and political, to the legal and social.

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See more from Dr Zahra Siddique, including recent publications.

Discover more research from the School of Economics on our website.