In Summary
  • Abuse: Having a partner who uses alcohol or other drugs significantly increased the likelihood of abuse

We recently concluded analysis on data we collected in Eldoret on the psychological factors associated with intimate partner violence experienced by women living in and around the town. Last week I had the opportunity to present the findings of this study at a conference in Lagos, Nigeria.

Compared to previous reports such as the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS), we uncovered astonishingly high rates of intimate partner violence in our study.

Over four out of five women who participated in our study reported having experienced at least one instance of emotional, sexual or physical violence in the 12 months preceding the study.

They reported being slapped, insulted, threatened, beaten to within an inch of their lives and being forced into sexual acts that often resulted in serious injuries leading to hospitalisation.

The most interesting aspect of this study, however, was the finding that two major psychological factors in the women increased their risk of being battered by their partners.

Firstly, holding traditional gender role attitudes significantly increased the risk of being battered. No matter how educated or otherwise empowered a woman happened to be, the fact that she agreed to take a subordinate role in the family hierarchy, instead of offering some protection from violence, actually increased the risk.

Previous work has suggested that women with more egalitarian attitudes had a high risk of being battered, but this was not immediately evident in our study.

Instead, we found that differences in gender role expectations were more significant in predicting intimate partner violence than a woman’s egalitarian gender role attitudes.

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