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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3129.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - 11:00 AM

Abstract #116763

Individual, family and community-level responses to domestic violence in rural Bangladesh

Sidney Ruth Schuler, PhD, Empowerment of Women Research Program, Academy for Educational Development, 1825 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20009, 2028848081, SSchuler@aed.org, Farzana Islam, PhD, Anthropology Department, Jahangirnagar University, 1-3A Lalmatia, Block C, Mohammadpur, Dhaka, 1207, Bangladesh, MD Khairul Islam, PhD, PLAN International, H58 Rd 7A, 5th Fl., Dhamondi R/A, Dhaka, 1209, Bangladesh, and Lisa M. Bates, SM, Department of Health and Social Behavior, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.

Domestic violence against women is widespread in Bangladesh. In a recent survey of 1200 married women, 2/3 reported that they had been physically abused by their husbands. We will present findings from 10 focus groups and 117 in-depth, qualitative interviews conducted in 2003-4 with women who were subjected to domestic violence; in-laws, natal families, and neighbors of such women; and community leaders. The interviews reveal a range of responses to domestic violence, but the majority of the women suffered silently. When they did seek help, or when others intervened spontaneously, the intervention usually failed to protect the women from further violence. In most cases the women remained with their abusive husbands or returned to them. This presentation will analyze socio-cultural processes related to gender inequality that limit recourse for women who are abused within marriage, undermine the potential for others to intervene informally, and limit the ability to deal effectively with spousal violence through both traditional mediation and the formal legal system. Based on the analysis, the authors will make recommendations for interventions to support abused women and strengthen traditional mediation systems. The data so far suggest three avenues for intervention: 1) screening through health facilities; 2) reform of traditional mediation mechanisms; and 3) a behavior change communication initiative, involving multiple sectors and building on successful models developed in connection with family planning and other primary health interventions.

Learning Objectives:

  • Upon completion, participants should be able to

    Keywords: Gender, Family Violence

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:

    I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

    [ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

    Gender-Based Violence: Context, Consequences, and Program Responses

    The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA