Studying intimate partner violence in a small-scale society

Violence against women is a pernicious public health problem that destroys lives all over the world. The World Health Organization reports that more than 1 in 3 women face violence from an intimate partner during their lifetime, and nearly 1 in 4 murders of women worldwide are by intimate partners. Developing effective interventions to reduce intimate partner violence requires understanding the underlying risk factors for such violence. In our study appearing in Nature Human Behaviour, we investigated some of the factors associated with intimate partner violence; we focused on how early exposures to family violence, attitudes about aggression, and decision-making authority in marriage impact women’s risk of experiencing physical abuse. We were motivated to conduct this study by prior research among Tsimane, which indicates that, on average, husbands want more children than their wives, and that wives have more children than they themselves think are ideal. While, in general, wives’ own desired family size better predicts how many children they end up having than husbands’ preferences, we sought to explore whether some men in this particular high fertility context might resort to intimate partner violence to increase their lifetime number of children.
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Aug 06, 2018