Kishor, Sunita and Sarah E.K. Bradley. 2012. Women’s and Men’s Experience of Spousal Violence in Two African Countries: Does Gender Matter? DHS Analytical Studies No. 27. Calverton, Maryland, USA: ICF International.
To better understand the role of gender in intimate partner violence (IPV) outside the developed world, this report compares the experiences of married men and married women with spousal violence, the most common form of IPV, using data from two sub-Saharan African countries, Ghana and Uganda. The analysis finds that spousal violence is relatively common among both women and men in the two countries studied, but finds no evidence of gender symmetry. The findings of this report are unambiguous in demonstrating that the level, intensity, and severity of spousal violence against women are much greater than they are against men; that women are much more likely to be the victims and men the aggressors, even after controlling for other relevant factors; that when men do experience violence it is much more likely to be in a mutually violent relationship, while women are much more likely to be only the victims of violence; and that women and the children of women who experience violence are more likely to experience poor health outcomes than men or the children of men who experience violence. Experiencing violence for women is associated with several poor health outcomes for themselves and their children; whereas for men, perpetrating spousal violence is particularly associated with higher-risk sexual behaviors and some poor health outcomes for their children. When women are perpetrators of violence, their male partners do suffer at least some of the same health consequences as suffered by women victims. Based on the findings of this report, it is recommended that elimination of violence against women should remain the highest priority. Nonetheless, programs that are working to reduce violence and its negative health consequences should also take into consideration the fact that not all men are only perpetrators of spousal violence; some are also victims.