Apr 29, 2011

Wife Beating in Uganda has Highest Acceptability by Women in World

AUTHOR:Dora ByamukamaSOURCE:New Vision

Life for Mothers' mission is not only to lower maternal and neonatal mortality, but to empower women and encourage men's involvement in family planning and in women's physical and mental health. A grave detriment to women's advancement, and men's involvement in that advancement, is domestic violence. Dora Byamukama explores the issue in the New Vision article, “Wife-Beating is Unacceptable”.
Ugandan women are more likely than any other group of women to see “wife-beating” as acceptable if a woman argues with her husband, according to a Worlds' Women and Girls 2011 Data Sheet that surveyed women across the globe. Uganda ranked first with 40% of women saying beating a wife is appropriate in some cases, while India was ranked second (30%), and Ghana was ranked third, at 21%.

Ms. Byamukama attributes a number of causes to the acceptance of violence against women. Causes include religious and cultural beliefs and practices “that treat women as inferior human beings and thus undermine their self-esteem. These beliefs and practices perpetuate an attitude that makes men and women believe that women are inferior and less intelligent—thus the need to punish them for arguing with their husbands.” As women are exposed to these beliefs from birth onward, they internalize them, triggering low self-esteem. Mothers often tell daughters to put up with abuse as a normal part of life; with no support, and little consequences for abusers, abuse can escalate to the point of murder. Disruptive causes like war, poverty and alcoholism also have an effect; while absolutely unacceptable, angry and frustrated men use their wives as the means to express the rage they feel at problems outside of the home.

The aforementioned data sheet also showed that 31% of Ugandan women (but curiously only 19% of Ugandan men) agree that it is acceptable for a man to beat his wife if she refuses to have sex with him. “This is an interesting and deeply disturbing finding.” This means more than 1 in 3 women condone marital rape, and punishment for women who desire to decide when they have sex. Aside from the fact that this belief greatly violates a woman's rights and autonomy, this inability for a woman to say “no” affects other areas. If she cannot say “no” can she say “use a condom”? Without choice, women are far more vulnerable to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other STIs.

According to Ms. Byamukama, “wife-beating” is often misconceived as “a mere slap”. She stresses that a “mere slap has the potential to cause the destruction of the eye.” In effect, due to community permissiveness and the general opinion that men have control over the private sphere (including their wife), no one “has the capacity to predetermine the kind of beating that may be meted on a woman in any given circumstance.” While “wife-beating” is “a crime prohibited by the Constitution, the Penal Code Act and the Domestic Violence Act,” and it is fortunate that less men approve of beating a wife than women, there is still a long way to go to stop domestic violence, and to stop the far more insidious effect misogyny has on women – internalized self-hatred. Here's the link to the article:  http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/20/753278

Did you know?

The risk of a woman dying in sub-Saharan Africa as a result of pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 22, as compared to 1 in 7300 in developed regions.

Source:United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 2010

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