Spousal violence affects one in three Albanian wives

July 21, 2005

Intimate partner violence affects women worldwide, but in Albania, more than a third of married women experience violence from their husbands during a year, and more empowered women are at greater risk, according to a study in this week's BMJ.

Researchers at the University of Tirana, the capital city of Albania surveyed 1039 married women aged 25-65 living in Tirana.

Women were asked about their experience of being hit, slapped, kicked, or otherwise physically hurt by the husband. Information on other social and demographic characteristics was also collected.

More than a third (37%) of women had experienced violence. Risk was greatest among women aged 25-34, women with more than 12 years of education, women in white collar jobs, women with least educated husbands, and women married to men raised in rural areas. Women were also at higher risk if they were more educated than their husbands.

These findings, related to women's and men's status, are in keeping with theories that argue that violence is used to enforce gender hierarchies and, particularly, when men have a sense of powerlessness because their social position makes them feel "unsuccessful" as men, say the authors.

Research from other countries has often shown that the most educationally and socially empowered women gain a level of protection, but such protection is not seen among the women of Tirana, possibly because Albania is known to be a country with particularly conservative ideas about sex roles.

Among the challenges for post-communist Albania, and it's health professionals, is the need to reduce the prevalence of intimate partner violence, as well as to provide support for women who are in, or who have been in, violent relationships and to be aware of the ways in which intimate partner violence influences psychological and physical health, they conclude.


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