|Gender differences in the acceptance of wife-beating: evidence from 30 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa
|Jones Arkoh Paintsil, Kenneth Setorwu Adde, Edward Kwabena Ameyaw, Kwamena Sekyi Dickson, and Sanni Yaya
|BMC Women's Health, Volume 23, Article number 451; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-023-02611-w
Multiple African Countries
The World Health Organization (WHO) has cited domestic violence as an urgent global maternal and child health priority. Gender differences in the acceptance of wife-beating have not been explored at the multi-country level in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where the occurrence of wife-beating (36%) is greater than the global average (30%). It is against this backdrop that we examine the gender differences in the acceptance of wife beating in SSA.
We used Demographic and Health Survey data from 30 SSA countries. Acceptance of wife beating among women and men was the principal outcome variable of interest. We employed Multiple correspondence analysis and logistic regression model as the primary estimation methods for this study. The descriptive statistics show that women had a higher acceptance rate (44%) of wife beating than men (25%). For the women sample, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, and Guinea had higher rates of acceptance of the wife beating (80.6%, 78.4%, 77.1% and 70.3% respectively) For the men, only Guinea had an acceptance rate above 50 percent.
We found that all else equal, women’s acceptance of wife beating is higher for male-headed households than for female-headed households. Women without formal education were 3.1 times more likely to accept wife beating than those with higher education. Men with no formal education were 2.3 times more likely to accept wife beating than men with higher education. We found that polygamous women were comparable to polygamous men. Polygamous women were 1.2 times more likely to accept wife beating than those in monogamous marriages. Women were 1.2 times more likely to accept wives beating if they had extramarital relationships. Contrarily, men who engaged in extramarital affairs were 1.5 times more likely to justify wife beating. We also found that women’s acceptance of wife beating decreases as they age. Men who decide on major household purchases and spending decisions on their earnings are more likely to accept wife beating. Corollary, women with similar gender and employment roles also accept wife beating. Finally, exposure to mass media is significantly associated with lower acceptance of wife beating for women and men.
We conclude that women have a higher acceptance rate of wife beating than men in SSA. Acceptance of wife beating differs significantly by country. Given the same level of education, women are more likely to accept wife beating than men. If women and men have similar levels of employment and gender roles, acceptance of wife beating is higher when men make major household purchasing decisions and and it is still higher even when the woman makes these decisions. Acceptance of wife beating is higher among young women and men, the uneducated, those in polygamous marriages, women, and men who engage in extra marital affairs, poor households and in rural areas. The findings indicate the need for policies and programs by SSA countries to truncate the high acceptance rate of wife beating, especially among women.