The Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey (PDHS) recently issued a comprehensive report in which, among various other questions, respondents were asked to choose reasons for which it is justified for a husband to hit his wife.
The 2012-13 PDHS includes results from completed interviews with 13,558 women and 3,134 men age 15-49, all of whom have been married at least once in their lives.
The report summarised findings from between 2012 and 2013 on various topics including maternal and child health, infant mortality levels, immunisation and awareness regarding HIV/AIDS.
The section ‘Women’s empowerment and demographic and health outcomes’ included a survey on attitudes towards domestic violence. The respondents were presented with six reasons that may be used to justify wife beating.
The six circumstances were: if the wife burns the food, if she argues with him, if she goes out without telling him, if she neglects the children, if she refuses to have sexual intercourse with him and if she neglects her in-laws. Respondents were allowed to choose multiple reasons.
The most widely accepted reason for wife beating among women in Pakistan is arguing with the husband (34%). 28% of women agree that a husband is justified in beating his wife if she neglects her in-laws and 18% agreed that a husband is justified in beating his wife if she burns the food.
Similar to the pattern among women, men are least likely to agree that burning the food is a valid reason for wife beating.
The majority of men (19.8%) felt that the most justified reason for beating their wife was the wife going out without telling him.
They also show similar levels of support for the other five reasons (16-20%), although at much lower levels than among women.
Across all six reasons, women voted in higher numbers than men. Among the respondents, 66% of men didn’t agree with any of the reasons mentioned while the percentage among women was 57.5%.