On SAGE Insight: Prevalence and Predictors of Violence Against Women in Pakistan

From Journal of Interpersonal Violence

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Pakistani women live in a culture of silence. Across investigations, only one third of women will report intimate partner violence to a family member. When combining high prevalence rates with a low likelihood of reporting, it is probable that Pakistani women will experience negative physical and emotional effects of abuse without adequate support or services. Violence against Pakistani women occurs at an alarming prevalence that reflects a significant risk to the health of women and families. Understanding which Pakistani women are most likely to experience abuse is an important first step in the eradication of violence. Yet, measurement of violence against women is an emerging field in Pakistan that is limited by region-specific sampling. The present study contributes to the literature by examining intrinsic predictors of intimate partner violence in a national sample of ever-married Pakistani women.

This study used nationally representative data from the 2012-2013 Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS). PDHS represents the population of Pakistan including all urban and rural areas of the four provinces and Gigit Baltistan defined as such in the 1998 Population Census. The sample design consisted of a two-stage stratified clustered design with the household as primary sampling units. The first stage of sampling draw included 248 urban and 252 rural out of 26,543 enumeration blocks, updated through the economic census conducted in 2003. The second stage of sampling involved selecting households. Overall, approximately 32.6% of women experienced some form of intimate partner violence. Compared with other investigations, the rates found in the present sample were lower. Some of these differences may be accounted for by the time frame. Because our study examined emotional or physical violence within the past year, prevalence rates appeared somewhat. An important conclusion from this study is to provide guidance for where prevention and services for survivors of intimate partner violence are most pertinent. Based on the present study, it appears that lower wealth is associated with susceptibility to emotional abuse. This is consistent with previous literature: most specifically literature suggesting that lower wealth is associated with an increased likelihood of violence with Pakistani men and reports that abuse is a common reaction to financial disputes lower than previous studies that examined lifetime experiences of abuse. Programming addressing means to navigate financial disputes, such as microloans, may be warranted. Microloans are small, interest-free loans provided to women to increase empowerment.


Violence against Pakistani women occurs at an alarming prevalence that reflects a significant risk to the health of women and families. Understanding violence against women in Pakistan comes with methodological and cultural complexities. Many of the studies examining prevalence and predictors of violence against women tend to utilize convenience samples contributing to the possibility of an inflated prevalence. Due to the patriarchal family structure and cultural context, domestic violence is normalized resulting in extremely low reporting rates. The present study utilizes a sample of ever-married Pakistani women collected across five provinces to shed light on the prevalence and predictors of women that experience domestic violence (emotional or physical abuse). Data were obtained from the 2012-2013 Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey including a large sample of Pakistani women from five provinces (Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Gilgit Baltistan). Binary Linear regressions were conducted to examine how intrinsic variables (age, education, region, urban/rural, type of marital relationship, and wealth) predicted experiencing emotional or physical abuse from one’s husband within the past year. Approximately, 20% of women endorsed experiencing physical violence and 28% endorsed experiencing emotional violence. Results found that educational level, wealth, and type of marital relationship were associated with a higher likelihood of experiencing some form of physical or emotional violence. Implications from this study support policy interventions aimed at education within the family, linking women with resources, and continued investment in the education of young women. Interventions would be best targeted in low wealth regions with a special emphasis on rural areas.

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Article details

Prevalence and Predictors of Violence Against Women in Pakistan
Kathryn LaBore, Tooba Ahmed, Rizwan-ur-Rashid,
and Rashid Ahmed,
First Published January 23, 2019 Research Article
DOI: 10.1177/0886260518824652
Journal of Interpersonal Violence

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