The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

3057.0: Monday, November 11, 2002 - Board 5

Abstract #48529

Marriage as a context for gender-based violence in Bangladesh

Lisa M Bates, SM1, Sidney Schuler, PhD2, Diana Santana, MA2, and Farzana Islam, PhD3. (1) Department of Health and Social Behavior, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, 617-522-8893,, (2) Empowerment of Women Research Program, JSI Research & Training Institute, 1616 N. Fort Myer Drive, 11th floor, Arlington, VA 22209, (3) Anthropology Department, Jahangirnagar University, 1-3A Lalmatia, Block C, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Gender-based violence has been recognized as a major public health and human rights concern worldwide. Recent studies have drawn attention to the beliefs, norms, and social institutions that legitimize violence against women. In particular, marriage-related norms and practices may reinforce women's relative powerlessness and negatively affect their reproductive health. Building on previous research on women's empowerment and microcredit in six Bangladeshi villages, this study highlights the role of marriage as a context for violence and other forms of gender-based inequities. The study aims to explore the social processes that perpetuate early marriage, and gender-based discrimination and violence within marriage. We combined qualitative and quantitative data to explore and link aspects of women's empowerment and gender equity with outcomes related to reproductive health. The qualitative data are based on 2 years of in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with men and women in six rural villages. The quantitative data are drawn from surveys conducted in the same villages in 1994 and early 2002. Initial findings suggest that violence is used to establish and enforce gender roles, especially in the initial years of marriage. Dowry violence in Bangladesh often occurs as the bride's new family tries to collect dowry payment or exhort additional dowry from the woman's natal family. Men frustrated by poverty and social expectations to provide for their families also react with violent behavior. The presentation will include discussion of how policies and program interventions may impact gender equity and women's empowerment, and thereby affect the prevalence of gender-based violence.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Women's Health, Domestic Violence

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

New Developments in International Reproductive Health Programs

The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA