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Justifications for wife beating among Iraqi women
  1. S B Sorenson*
  1. Correspondence University of Pennsylvania, 3815 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA


Background Little is known about attitudes toward domestic violence in low- and middle-income countries. Less yet is known about such attitudes in the Middle East.

Methods Data are from Iraq's 2006 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS3), an in-person representative sample survey. Response rates were high: 98.6% of the selected households and 98.6% of the selected 15–49 year old women participated. Women (N=27 186) were asked whether a husband would be justified in beating his wife under five specific circumstances. Simple frequencies and multivariate logistic regressions were calculated.

Results Nearly 60% of study participants said that a husband was justified in beating his wife: 48.8% if she goes out without telling him, 42.9% if she neglects the children, 37.5% if she argues with him, 34.2% if she refuses sex and 20.6% if she burns the food. AORs indicate that women's beliefs that a husband is justified in beating his wife in each of these circumstances were higher among those who were married, less educated, and from rural areas. Among the married, those who were less educated, from rural areas, married to a blood relative (59.0% of the sample), or under the age of 22 when married (73.2% of the sample) were more likely to report that a husband is justified in beating his wife.

Conclusions Iraqi women appear to support wife beating most when the woman has violated her traditional role as a woman, a mother and lastly, as a wife.

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