On SAGE Insight: Women’s Empowerment as a Protective Factor Against Intimate Partner Violence

Article title: Women’s Empowerment as a Protective Factor Against Intimate Partner Violence in Bangladesh: A Qualitative Exploration of the Process and Limitations of Its Influence

From Violence against women

Worldwide, in 2010, an estimated 30% of women ages 15 and above had experienced physical or sexual partner violence or both in their lifetimes, based on an analysis of data from 141 studies in 81 countries. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is associated with a wide range of adverse consequences for women, including physical and psychological trauma, disability, neurological injuries, and psychological health issues. Some of the highest rates of lifetime IPV have been reported in rural Bangladesh, where 32-72% of married women below age 50 have reported experiencing it in their lifetimes. Although expressed in various ways, most definitions of women’s empowerment involve their acquisition of resources, agency, and the ability to make strategic life choices in the context of gender inequality.

Authors of this paper constructed qualitative case studies exploring factors and social processes underlying relationships between empowerment and IPV in four villages. Findings suggest that there is much to be learned from existing variations in IPV prevalence among communities and other population subgroups that could inform interventions to mitigate the increased risk of IPV.  Interventions are needed to reinforce the potential of empowerment to reduce IPV and counteract factors such as geographic isolation and limited employment opportunities that inhibit empowerment.

Abstract

Literature on the relationship between intimate partner violence (IPV) against women and women’s empowerment is contradictory. Findings from a recent survey in rural Bangladesh suggest that empowerment is becoming protective even though IPV rates remain high. We construct qualitative case studies exploring factors and social processes underlying relationships between empowerment and IPV in four villages. Empowerment may be protective against IPV in the aggregate, but this relationship can be subverted at the micro level. Interventions are needed to reinforce the potential of empowerment to reduce IPV and counteract factors such as geographic isolation and limited employment opportunities that inhibit empowerment.

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Article details
Women’s Empowerment as a Protective Factor Against Intimate Partner Violence in Bangladesh
A Qualitative Exploration of the Process and Limitations of Its Influence
Sidney Ruth Schuler, Rachel Lenzi, Shamsul Huda Badal, Lisa M. Bates
First Published July 7, 2016
Violence Against Women
DOI: 10.1177/1077801216654576

 

 

     
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