Nav: Home

The connection between child marriage and domestic violence

October 13, 2016

A new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology indicates that women across 34 countries are at increased risk for domestic violence if they marry before age 15.

Globally, 34% of young women (aged 20-24) were married before age 18 and 12% before age 15 during the period 2000-2011, with the highest prevalence found in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

This study used data from Demographic and Health Surveys conducted in 34 low and middle income countries. Women 15-49 were surveyed; typically one ever-married or partnered woman per household was randomly chosen to complete a domestic violence questionnaire.

Respondents who have ever been married or cohabitated with a man were asked about their experience with domestic violence.

A third of the women surveyed were married as children: 9% were married before they turned 15, another 25% married between the ages of 15 and 17. Among the countries included, the overall prevalence of child marriage among women 20-24 was lowest in Kyrgyzstan (8%) and highest in Mali (58%). Approximately half (48%) the sample had completed primary education and 64% lived in a rural area.

Over a fifth (22%) of the sample reported experiencing past-year physical violence by their intimate partner; prevalence ranged from 2% in Ukraine to nearly 60% in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Past-year sexual violence was less prevalent (8%) but had a substantial range. The majority of women who reported experiencing past-year sexual abuse also reported past-year physical abuse.

The study demonstrated that, globally, past-year physical and/or sexual violence was higher among women who married as children (29%) compared to those who married as adults (20%).

East Asia consistently had the highest odds of domestic violence, particularly when related to child marriage before age 15. Sub-Saharan Africa was on the other end of the spectrum, with odds ratios of comparatively lower magnitude. Europe and Central Asia was unique in showing no evidence of a relationship between early child marriage and any type of past-year domestic violence, though this should be interpreted with caution given the low rates of both early child marriage and sexual violence in the region.

There are a number of potential reasons why child marriages may be characterized by greater violence. Women who marry as children are more likely to be uneducated, live in poverty, and subscribe to traditional gender norms. Child marriages are characterized by spousal age gaps, power imbalances, social isolation, and lack of female autonomy. These factors are demonstrated risk factors for domestic violence. It may be that the same inequitable gender norms that give rise to child marriage also perpetuate violence.
-end-
The paper "Child marriage and intimate partner violence: A comparative study of 34 countries" is available at: http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/10/12/ije.dyw225.full

Direct correspondence to:

Rachel Kidman, PhD
Core Faculty, Program in Public Health
Assistant Professor, Department of Family, Population, and Preventive Medicine
Stony Brook Medicine, Health Sciences Center
Level 3, Stony Brook, NY 11794
Email: rachel.kidman@stonybrook.edu
Phone: 631 444-2645

The International Journal of Epidemiology encourages communication among those engaged in the research, teaching, and application of epidemiology of both communicable and non-communicable disease, including research into health services and medical care.

Sharing on social media? Find Oxford Journals online at @OxfordJournals

Oxford University Press USA

Related Domestic Violence Articles:

UC3M researchers analyze link between employment status and domestic violence
Researchers from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have carried out a study that analyzes sociodemographic characteristics related to gender-based violence.
New Penn research examines gun use, injury and fear in domestic violence
About 2 percent of domestic-violence incidents involve guns, according to new research from Susan B.
Why baboon males resort to domestic violence
Some baboon males vying for a chance to father their own offspring expedite matters in a gruesome way -- they kill infants sired by other males and attack pregnant females, causing them to miscarry, researchers report.
Chapman Perelman Foundation domestic violence gift awarded to Columbia Psychiatry
The Chapman Perelman Foundation has contributed $1 million to Columbia University Medical Center's Department of Psychiatry to expand an initiative that provides mental health services to victims of domestic violence.
Social work professor's domestic violence project wins major national award
A project which aims to prevent domestic violence in the Caribbean has won a national award for public engagement.
Study tests police training on rape, domestic violence victims
Three researchers at Sam Houston State University will evaluate a new training initiative by the Houston Police Department designed to improve response to sexual assault and domestic violence victims.
The connection between child marriage and domestic violence
A new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology indicates that women across 34 countries are at increased risk for domestic violence if they marry before age 15.
'Culture of affluence' complicates women's help-seeking for domestic violence
Cultural values in affluent communities -- keeping problems private, materialism, perfectionism, limited access to the couple's wealth and quality legal representation -- discourage affluent women from leaving partners who abuse them.
Childhood abuse and chronic parental domestic violence linked to later addictions
Adults who have drug or alcohol dependency have experienced very high rates of early adversities, according to a new study published by University of Toronto researchers.
Link found between witnessing parental domestic violence during childhood and attempted suicide
A new study by the University of Toronto (U of T), found the lifetime prevalence of suicide attempts among adults who had been exposed to chronic parental domestic violence during childhood was 17.3% compared to 2.3% among those without this childhood adversity.

Related Domestic Violence Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...