A newly-released Uganda demographic health survey indicates that six in every 10 women justify wife beating, a slight decrease from 2006 where seven in 10 women gave a nod to the act. According to the report released in October, the most widely accepted reason for wife beating are neglecting children, which was rated at 45 per cent compared with 56 per cent in 2006.
Other reasons include going out without informing the husband, while about three in 10 women in 2011 compared with four in 10 in 2006, thought that arguing with a spouse justifies wife beating. In an interesting twist, the percentage of women who think that denying a husband sex justifies wife beating has declined from 31 per cent in 2006 to 22 per cent in 2011, while that of women, who think burning food deserves beating has fallen from 23 per cent to 17 per cent over the same period.
However, the number of men, who justified wife beating was slightly lower than that of women as indicated in the survey at 44 per cent compared to 58 of women. The report also highlighted the level of acceptance of wife beating being highest among the youngest age group between 15 and 29 years at 62 per cent and lowest among women aged between 30 and 34.
The vice was recorded to be more acceptable among rural women at 61 per cent compared to 46 per cent of their urban counterparts. “Wife beating is most prevalent among women with a primary education and among women living in households with low income levels,” says the report.
A high percentage of rural men (47 per cent) compared with urban men (29 per cent) believe that wife beating is justified for at least one reason. Sixty per cent of men from the northern region are most likely to agree with at least one reason for hitting or beating a wife.
Mr Bedha Balikudembe, the communications coordinator of Isis Wicce, a women’s rights organisation, attributes women’s attitudes toward wife beating to general lack of awareness about their rights and cultural beliefs which make men as the dominant gender.
“Women need to be educated to understand their rights and how to demand for them without causing conflicts in their homes,” said Mr Balikudembe. He added that women, especially in the north, accepted wife beating, saying it was a sign of love from their husbands.
The survey, which is done after every five years, was last carried out in 2006.