Attitudes of Pakistani men to domestic violence: A study from Karachi, Pakistan

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Aim: To explore men's attitudes on wife abuse and examine predictors for the risk of physical abuse in a cohort of Pakistani men. Methods: Men were identified based on convenience sampling from three socioeconomic venues. A total of 176 men (≥18 years) who were married for at least 1 year and lived with their wives during the preceding year were interviewed. Information on demographics, behaviours, and attitudes to wife abuse (verbal and physical) were elicited. Results: The lifetime prevalence of marital physical abuse was 49.4%; slapping, hitting or punching was most often reported (47.7%). Of the men 55% were themselves victims of physical violence during childhood and 65% had, as children, observed their mother being beaten. Almost half of the subjects thought that husbands have a right to hit their wives (46.0%). Significant predictors in the logistic regression analysis included low socioeconomic status (OR 2.6; 95% CI 1.1, 6.1), marriage duration of ≥ 5 years (OR 3.0; 95% CI 1.3,6.9), beaten as a child (OR 4.5; 95% CI 2.1,9.6) and witnessed mother beaten as a child (OR 2.7; 95% CI 1.2,6.0). Study limitations, convenience sampling and small sample size, should be viewed in the context of the rarity of South Asian wife abuse studies. Conclusions: The burden of wife abuse in Pakistani society, the inter-generational cycle of violence perpetuation, men's right to physically abuse their wives, in concert with their felt need of some type of help suggest that interventions should consider preventing child abuse in addition to adopting strategies to prevent spousal abuse.