University of Michigan Study Finds Lessening of Acceptance of Domestic Violence Around the World

rpierotA new study by researchers at the University of Michigan examines the changing attitudes on domestic violence in 26 developing nations around the world. Using data from surveys conducted by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Rachael Pierotti, a graduate student in sociology at the University of Michigan, found that since 2000 domestic violence has become much less acceptable. Survey participants were asked if a man was justified in hitting his wife if she argues with him, neglects the children, leaves the home without telling him, refuses to have sex with him, or burns the food.

In Indonesia and Madagascar, the percentages of men and women who stated that domestic violence was acceptable actually increased between 2003 and today but in most nations the rates of acceptance of domestic violence declined. Pierotti found that rejection of domestic violence was more common in urban areas and among the well-educated.

Surprisingly in the 15 countries where men’s attitudes were surveyed, men were more likely than women to reject the use of violence in 11 nations. For example in Nigeria, 65 percent of men but only 52 percent of women stated that it would be wrong for men to hit their spouse under any of the circumstances outlined in the survey. In a similar survey conducted a decade ago, 48 percent of the men and 33 percent of the women said it would be wrong for the man to hit the woman.

“The global spread of ideas about women’s rights and the increasing international attention to the problem of violence against women may be contributing to the striking change in attitudes about the issue,” Pierotti said.

The research is published in the current issue of the American Sociological Review.

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