Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences

Year: 2009
Volume: 6
Issue: 5
Page No. 277 - 286

Domestic Violence Against Women and its Causes: An Analysis from the Perspective of University Students

Authors : Özgün Bener and Gülay Günay

Abstract: This study aimed to establish the views of university students, who will form the families of the future, on domestic violence against women and its causes. Within the scope of the study, 200 students were included, selected using the Stratified Random Sampling Method from among the students studying at Hacettepe and Gazi Universities during the 2006-2007 academic year. Among the students, the rate of those who were of the view that domestic violence against women is widespread were in the majority (53.5%). Sixty percent of male students (p<0.05) and 55% of freshman students were of the view that domestic violence against women is not widespread. According to t-test results relating students’ gender to their views on reasons for domestic violence against women, the average score for the reason the woman getting pregnant was high for both genders (female = 3.49; male < =3.75) (p<0.05).

How to cite this article:

Özgün Bener and Gülay Günay, 2009. Domestic Violence Against Women and its Causes: An Analysis from the Perspective of University Students. Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences, 6: 277-286.

INTRODUCTION

Violence is an important social issue, which can be observed in all areas of people’s lives and which is on the increase worldwide. Violence, while mostly believed by the perpetrator as being a necessary and beneficial behavior, is perceived as violence by the person encountering this behavior. Therefore, defining a behavior as violence may vary from person to person and according to culture (WHO, 2002, 2005; Subasi and Akin, 2003).

Despite not being recorded adequately, the most widely encountered form of violence is violence against women (Buken and Sahinoglu, 2006). Violence against women is the most important and widely encountered phenomenon faced by all societies, regardless of geographical boundaries, economic development and education level (WHO, 2002; Buken and Sahinoglu, 2006; Tower, 2006; Huch, 2000; Eyo, 2006, Meyer-Emerick, 2002; Schwartz, 2005; Gracia and Herrero, 2007; Ergonen et al., 2007). Violence against women or social gender based violence is on the whole a violation of the human rights of the woman (Eyo, 2006; Gracia and Herrero, 2007).

Today, the prevalence of violence against women has reached alarming levels. Across the globe, at least 50% of women encounter physical violence and sexual abuse and many more have to live under psychological pressure and threat. The report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2002 states that violence occurs mostly in the domestic environment and against women. The family, which should be a unit that meets individuals’ fundamental needs and provides physical and psychological protection and development, is on the contrary, where more or less all types of violence are cultivated and applied. While society is held responsible for the violence occurring outside of the family, domestic violence remains hidden, is considered private and is often treated as ordinary and legal (Eyo, 2006; Ünal, 2005; Karaduman et al., 1997; Harris, 2006; Schwartz, 2005). It was identified that 25% of women living in European countries experienced domestic violence (United Nations, 2006), whereas in Canada 29% of women were subjected to physical violence by their spouses (Sudermann and Jaffe, 1999). In the USA, physical violence occurs in one out of two marriages and it was established that every 15 sec a woman was beaten, usually by her husband/boyfriend (United Nations, 2006). According to the results of the study conducted by the World Health Organization by interviewing 24.000 women in covers 15 sites and 10 countries Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Peru, Namibia, Samoa, Serbia and Montenegro, Thailand and the United Republic of Tanzania, the rate of women subjected to physical violence by their spouses was 13-61%, the rate of women who suffered sexual violence was 6-59% and the rate of women who encountered emotional violence was 20-75% (WHO, 2005). In the study conducted by the Turkish Republic Prime Ministry Family Research Institute (1995) covering Turkey in general, it was identified that 97.0% of women experienced domestic violence and there was physical violence in 34% and verbal violence in 53% of families. In the study conducted by Içli (1994), 21.2% of married women and 63.9% of convicted women stated that their spouses inflicted violence on them.

The position of the woman within the family does not vary much in different social structures (Karaduman et al., 1997). In the emergence of domestic violence against women, factors such as the roles of the family members not being well-defined, time spent together, the specific structure of the family, the intensity of emotional sharing, the presence of events creating stress and conflict in the family and economic inadequacies play an important role (Subasi and Akin, 2003; Huch, 2000).

In terms of the social process, the woman, who is not well-equipped against violence in the social, economic, cultural and psychological sense, normalizes violence and continues family life. In most cases, the woman does not even realize that she is experiencing some forms of violence, such as emotional, economic, social isolation, etc., which are distinct from physical violence (Karaduman et al., 1997). The woman subjected to domestic violence has generally been oriented to being passive in a emotionally strict family environment, is socially isolated, believes that violence is present in all families, holds herself responsible for the behaviors of the assailant never loses her belief that he will one day change and is obedient because she believes that the violence will one day end. These women, who have low self-esteem and dependent personality characteristics, have the tendency to deny the violence they experience despite having considerably serious physiological and psychological issues, their roles within and around the family is traditionalist (Subasi and Akin, 2003).

In many societies, inflicting violence is perceived as an acceptable behavior and is regarded as an ordinary characteristic of marriage. The lack of reliable, serious support systems for women suffering domestic violence and deficiencies in legal regulations regarding domestic violence contributes to increased violence (Ulutasdemir, 2002; Huch, 2000; WHO, 2002).

Turkey is a country with a young population. There are 6.5 million people between the ages of 18-22 in the university age group and 21.1% of these are studying at universities. At the same time, 95% of the students studying at universities are single. Therefore, the identification of the views of university students, who will form the healthy, happy families of the future, on domestic violence against women and its reasons and raising their awareness of this subject is of great importance in terms of preventing domestic violence against women and for developing role model behaviors for the young generations they will bring up in the future.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

This study starts from the point of obtaining detailed information about the importance of university students’ views on domestic violence against women and its reasons due to both being the individuals who will form families in the future.

The study universe was comprised of a total of 433 students studying at Hacettepe University, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and Gazi University, Faculty of Technical Education, Department of Mechanics in Ankara, Turkey during the 2006-2007 academic years. Two hundred students identified with the “Stratified Sampling Method and who are continuing their education were included in the study sample. The Neyman Distribution formula was used for the purposes of determining the number of students to be taken from each class (Table 1).

A multi-item questionnaire was prepared for the purposes of determining university students’ views on domestic violence against women and its causes (Subasi and Akin, 2003; Huch, 2000; Eyo, 2006; Meyer-Emerick, 2002; Schwartz, 2005; Gracia and Herrero, 2007; McCloskey et al., 2005; Güler et al., 2005).

The survey form was composed of three sections.

The first section contained demographic related questions aiming to gather information regarding the students and students’ families.

The second section contained questions such as is domestic violence against women widespread?, Who applies domestic violence against women most?, Who are the women on whom domestic violence is inflicted most? and What is the type of domestic violence inflicted on women?.

In the third section, there are 24 statements relating to the reasons for inflicting domestic violence against women (Likert-style questions with responses ranging between 1 and 5). The students included in the study were asked to evaluate these statements by choosing one of the following options Completely agree (1), Agree (2), Undecided (3), Disagree (4), Completely disagree (5).

Research data were collected using the questionnaire prepared by the researcher in face-to-face 20-25 min interviews individuals between the dates of 5th April 2007 to 25th May 2007.


Table 1:

The studies students at Hacettepe and Gazi University during The 2006-2007 academic year and the students at each class that have included in the research sample

Of the university students included in the research were 45.0% female (n = 90) and 55.0% male students (n = 110). The average age of the female students was 23±1.62 and that of the male students was 22±2.33. The ages of the students ranged between 17 and 27. Out of the students currently continuing their education, 20.0% were freshman, 26.0% sophomore, 22.5% junior and 31.5% senior students.

Data evaluation and analysis: The analysis of the data was conducted using the SPSS for Windows 11.5 software, based on the responses given by the 200 students to the questions included in the questionnaire. Tables based on the students’ gender and class year were created to examine domestic violence against women and its causes from the perspective of university students. The test for the significance of the difference between two averages (t-test), One Way Variance Analysis (ANOVA) and Chi Square analyses were used in order to establish whether there was a statistically significant difference between the students’ opinions about domestic violence against women and its causes and the independent variables.

If the number of options relating to the opinions and the independent variables was two, it was tested using the Test for the Significance of the Difference between Two Averages (t-test) and if it was more than two, it was tested using One Way Variance Analysis (ANOVA). If the difference was found to be significant as a result of the ANOVA analysis, a Multiple Comparison Test (LSD) was used in order to check from which group or groups the difference stemmed and the results were presented in tables (Aneshensel, 2002).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

General information regarding the students’ families: On examining the demographic characteristics of the families of the students included in the study, the average age of the mothers was found to be 47±5.56 and that of the fathers was 51±5.99. Among both the mothers (67.5%) and the fathers (44.0%), the rate of those who have studied as far as primary education and lower level of education was highest. The mothers of 83.5% of the students were housewives and 39.5% of fathers were workers.


Table 2:

General information of the students’ families

The parents of the majority (89.5%) were still married and lived together. Thirty four percent of the students had one sibling, 33.5% had two and 15.5% had three. Out of the participating students, 60.5% stated that their families lived in cities, 29.5% in towns and 10.0% in villages. Seventy two percent of the families had a middle level income and the average income was 1,039.40±698.53 TL (Table 2).

Domestic violence against women from the perspective of university students: Among the students, the rate of those who were of the view that domestic violence against women was widespread (53.5%) was higher than those who were of the view that it was not widespread (40.0%). Among female students, the rate of those who were of the view that domestic violence against women was widespread (77.8%) was higher, whereas among male students the rate of those who were of the view that it was not widespread (60.0%) was higher (Table 3). The relationship between the views of the students on whether domestic violence against women was widespread and their gender was found to be statistically significant (χ2 = 42.479, p<0.05) (Table 4).

On examining the students’ opinions according to their class year; among freshman students, the rate of those who thought violence against women was not widespread (55.0%) was found to be high, whereas among the students studying in other class years the rate of those who thought that it was widespread (Sophomore year: 56.0%; Junior year: 57.4%; Senior year: 55.6%) was found to be high (Table 3). However, it was seen that there was not a significant correlation between the students’ views and their class year (χ2 = 7.264, p>0.05) (Table 4).

Out of the participating students, 82.5% were of the view that domestic violence against women was inflicted by the spouse most. There was no difference in the views on this issue in terms of gender and class year (Table 3). On examining the students’ views on the subject from a statistical perspective, it was determined that these relationships were statistically insignificant (χ2 = 4.952, p>0.05) (Table 4).

Among the students, 37.5% were of the view that women who were forced into marriage by their families experienced violence more. This is followed by, in order, older/disabled/orphaned women (20.5%) and women with low income (19.0%). Among both female (36.7%) and male students (38.2%), the rate of those who were of the view that women who were forced into marriage by their families were the ones who were subjected to violence most was high (Table 3). In fact, the relationship between the students’ views on this issue and their gender was found to be statistically significant (χ2 = 16.755, p<0.05) (Table 4).

Among freshman (42.5%), sophomore (44.0%) and junior (40.4%) students, those who were of the view that women who were forced into marriage by their families were subjected to violence more were in the lead at similar rates, whereas among senior year students (28.6%), those who were of the view that women with low income Women who have low income were subjected to violence more scored highest (Table 3). The relationship between the students’ class year and their views on which women experienced domestic violence most were found to be statistically insignificant (χ2 = 22.360, p>0.05) (Table 4).


Table 3:

Domestic violence against women from the perspective of university students

Table 4:

Domestic violence against women from the perspective of university students and value of analysis

*p<0.05; **p>0.05

Out of the participating university students, 32.5% were of the view that women were subjected to sexual-physical-psychological domestic violence. The rate of those who were of the view that only physical violence was inflicted was 25.5%. While, 31.8% of male students thought that only physical violence against women was widespread, half of female students (50.0%) were of the view that women were subjected to sexual-physical-psychological domestic violence (Table 3). However, the relationship between the views on the issue and gender was found to be statistically insignificant (χ2 = 8.944, p>0.05) (Table 4).

Among freshman students, the rate of those who thought women experienced physical and physical-sexual (22.5%) domestic violence was high, whereas among students in the sophomore, junior and senior years, the rate of those who thought that sexual-physical-psychological violence was inflicted was high (sophomore year: 34.0%; junior year: 38.3%; Senior year: 38.1%) (Table 3). Statistically, it was identified that the relationship between the form of domestic violence inflicted on the woman and class year was insignificant (χ2 = 23.951, p>0.05) (Table 5).

University students’ views on some of the causes for domestic violence against women: The t-test results relating to the views of the participating students on some reasons for domestic violence against women and their gender are shown in Table 5. The reasons for violence with high average scores were, in order, the women getting pregnant (Female < = 3.49; Male = 3.75) (p<0.05), the education status of the woman being higher than her spouse (Female = 2.73; Male = 3.36) (p<0.05), the education status of the woman being lower than her spouse (Female = 2.87; Male = 3.45) (p<0.05), the woman being unable to give birth to a baby (Female = 2.46; Male = 2.93) (p<0.05) and the woman being unable to give birth to a baby child (Female = 2.17; Male = 2.92) (p<0.05). Furthermore, the relationship between these statements and gender was found to be significant as a result of the statistical evaluation conducted. This significance stemming from male students is a result which needs to be emphasized (Table 6).

According to the results of the variance analysis applied to the students’ views on reasons for domestic violence against women and their class year, a statistically significant relationship was found between students class year and the education status of the woman being lower than her spouse (p<0.05), Not getting along well with the father -in-law (p<0.05), Different cultural backgrounds of husband and wife (p<0.05) and Cheating by the husband (p<0.05). Furthermore, the results of the LSD test, showing the class years for which there was a significant difference, are shown in Table 5.

Domestic violence against women is a violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms and is a social problem which arises as a result of unequal power relationships between women and men.

This problem is kept hidden most of the time since it occurs in private areas and it is extremely difficult to determine its extent. Because women do not take an equal part with men in the decision making processes within both the society and the family and because their social and economic status is low, women are in a weak position against violence.

According to the results of the study, it was found that female and male students had different views on the prevalence of domestic violence against women. This situation gives rise to the thought that social gender is influential on students’ views on whether or not domestic violence against women is widespread.


Table 5:

University students’ views on some of the causes for domestic violence against women and results of one way Variance Analysis (ANOVA)

*p<0.05; **p>0.05

In comparison to students studying in other class years, the freshmen students having voiced views that domestic violence against women was not widespread gives the impression that they think traditionally. Furthermore, if it is taken into consideration that education is a process which brings about change in views, ideas and thoughts on several issues in general apart from the area studied and that freshmen students are at the beginning of this process, it can be assumed that this finding is normal. It should also be taken into account that the perception and definition of domestic violence are always formed from the cultural values of the society and individuals (Subasi and Akin, 2003; Buken and Sahinoglu, 2006). According to a study conducted on twenty American Indian women and twenty European American women from a local community in a medium sized urban area in America by Tehee and Esqueda (2008), it was found that American Indian women stated that nearly 69% experienced domestic violence, while European American women believed 47% experienced such abuse.

The high rate of those who were of the view that domestic violence against women was mostly inflicted by the spouses supports previous literature showing that violence is inflicted on the woman by the men she recognizes, knows and trusts in the family, more than unknown, unrecognized strangers (Muslu and Erdem, 2002). Another significant point is that the use of domestic violence against women is most times legitimized by the spouses. It can be said that this situation is a reflection of the power relations prevailing within society in general (Ünal, 2005). In the study by the Republic of Turkey Prime Minister’s Office Family Research Institution (1995) it was stated that >99% of those who use violence against women were male and that >90% of those who are subjected to violence are women and children. According to a study conducted on 116 housewives in Turkey by Mayda and Akkus (2004), it was found that 41.4% of the women had experienced violence by their spouses or boyfriends within the last 12 months. In the study conducted by Güler et al. (2005) on the perspective of women on domestic violence, 40.7% of the women stated that they experienced domestic violence and 91.0% of these stated that their spouses were responsible for the violence.

About 37.5% of the students were of the view that women who were forced into marriage by their families were subjected to violence more. The gender and class year of the students did not statistically affect their views on the issue. In the literature, it is emphasized that generally violence used against women is not affected by age, socioeconomic status, religion, or ethnic origin, while being pregnant, single, divorced or living separated from one’s spouse increased the risk of being subjected to violence (Subasi and Akin, 2003). If it is taken into consideration that the sample group of the study was still continuing their university education, it can be assumed that these findings are normal.

The high rate of male students who held the view that physical violence against women was widespread may give rise to the thought that male students had inadequate knowledge of sexual and psychological violence, or that they did not perceive these behaviors as violence.


Table 6:

University students’ views on some of the causes for domestic violence against women and results of t-test

*p<0.05; **p>0.05

It may be due to sexual and psychological violence not being considered violence within the family or its being considered a private matter. The studies conducted by McCloskey et al. (2005) in Tanzania and by Ergönen et al. (2006) in Turkey support the findings of the present study.

According to the t-test results relating the students views on reasons for domestic violence against women and their gender, the average score relating to the reason the woman getting pregnant is high in terms of both genders. The average score among the male students (3.75) relating to the reason of the woman getting pregnant being higher compared to the female students (3.45) is a striking finding. Because this was a study conducted for the purposes of examining the views of the individuals who will form families in the future, this is an issue, which needs to be investigated in a separate study. Furthermore, it was observed that in the study the average scores of the male students were in general higher than those of female students. This result gives the impression that the man perceives the attitude and behaviors of the woman, which are not compatible with the identities imposed on her as a threat directly aimed at his own dominance and consequently sees the use of domestic violence against the woman as an earned right. Therefore, when the use of violence for a purpose adopted and deemed legitimate by the society comes to the fore, it is unlikely that that behavior is perceived as violence. In a study conducted by Mayda and Akkus (2004), the large majority of males inflicting violence on their spouses stated the reason for the violence was because his spouse did not do as she was told and 55% of the women interviewed stated that there were situations when the woman may deserve to be beaten. In the study conducted by Ogunjuyigble et al. (2005) in Nigeria, it was found that domestic violence against women decreased in comparison to previous years, but 21.6% of the male participants of the study admitted that using violence on women based on any reason was acceptable and 65.8% admitted that they could use violence if the woman was having an affair. In the study conducted by Chan (2006) in China, the finding that out of the 18 male participants in the 21-55 age group, 11 admitted to inflicting physical, 8 sexual and 12 psychological violence against their spouses/girlfriends for various reasons supports the findings of the present study. In the study conducted by Tehee and Cynthia Willis (2008), in America, American Indian and European American women’s definitions and perceived causes for domestic violence were examined. In terms of causation, European American women tended to say that domestic violence was caused by personal, internal dysfunctions of the abuser, such as anger control issues, whereas American Indian women viewed the cause of domestic violence to emanate from society and social problems, such as poverty, unemployment and lack of mobility due to isolation.

CONCLUSION

In Turkey, violence against women and domestic violence is perceived as private and remains mostly hidden. Especially, due to the belief that what happens at home, stays at home is prevalent among women being subjected to domestic violence, it has taken a long time for it to emerge as a social issue (Dissiz and Sahin, 2008).

This study found that the students did not have adequate knowledge on domestic violence, domestic violence against women, or prevalence and types of violence. Bringing up young individuals who are ignorant of the issue of domestic violence against women, on which studies are conducted by various disciplines worldwide and for the resolution, of which various projects are generated, will lead to negative consequences for future families. Therefore, this demonstrates the need for putting compulsory lessons into the curricula in educational institutions. For example a study in Turkey purpose of the study was to investigate the effectiveness of domestic violence course, a relatively new issue in medical students: undergraduate curriculum. During the initial design of the course, the aim was to increase students’ acquisition of knowledge, awareness and sensitivity on domestic violence. The results of the study showed that the course on domestic violence increased students’ knowledge level and led them to question their physical domestic violence experiences (Ergonen et al., 2007).

Violence weakens both the woman as an individual and her family and consequently the society. The cost of violence against women does not only consist of the services provided to the victims of violence or the procedures conducted against the perpetrators. Besides these direct costs, there is also an indirect cost which causes production and employment to fall. The results of previous analyses demonstrate that the cost of preventing domestic violence against women is much lower than the total cost of violence victims’ treatment and protection costs and the cost of legal proceedings conducted against the perpetrators.

Therefore, initiatives made in order to prevent violence are even more significant for both women and the society.

Among the recommendations of the World Health Organization for the prevention of domestic violence, are compliance with international legal agreements and the development of laws and other mechanisms aimed at protecting human rights (Krug et al., 2002). Turkey also endeavors to fulfill the responsibilities it undertook by signing international agreements relating to domestic violence through improvements made in internal legal regulations. In this area, significant responsibilities fall not only on politicians and legislators, but on all professional groups. In conclusion, it will not be sufficient to include lessons about domestic violence and violence against women in the curricula of the university departments such as social sciences and social services. It may be recommended that informative and educational programs relating to this issue be organized in all universities.

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