Percent of target audience who say that wife beating is an acceptable way for husbands to discipline their wives

Proportion of people who consider wife beating an acceptable way for a husband to discipline his wife for any reason, at a specified period in time.  The “target population” describes a group intended to benefit from domestic violence messaging.

Based on WHO’s checklist found in the Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women evaluators may ask: Sometimes a husband is annoyed or angered by things that his wife does. In your opinion, is a husband justified in hitting or beating his wife:

  • If she is unfaithful to him?
  • If she disobeys her husband?
  • If she argues with him?
  • If she refuses to have sex with him?
  • If she does not do the housework adequately?

This indicator is calculated as:

(Number of respondents who respond “yes” to any of the questions related to what justifies wife beating by husbands, as listed above/Total number of people surveyed) x 100


Responses to a set of questions such as those listed above under the definition, which can be included in a population-based survey questionnaire.  Disaggregating this by the number of reasons given by people will give more information about respondents’ beliefs. For example, it will be useful to programs to know if most of the people included in the numerator only cite one reason versus most people citing four or five. People living in areas where only one or two reasons were answered affirmatively may have less general acceptance for intimate partner violence than in areas where most people respond affirmatively to most or all reasons asked.  Where data is available, this indicator can be disaggregated by sex of the respondent, age group, marital status, and other relevant factors such as education, income, and urban/rural residence.


Population-based survey.


This outcome indicator measures the level of acceptability of wife-beating in an area (region, country, community) for any reason, at the point in time that it is measured. A high proportion would indicate that most people in the targeted population feel that wife beating is acceptable under certain conditions.

Focus group discussions with residents of communities, key informant interviews with community leaders and women’s group leaders may assess the level of tolerance for wife-beating (or more broadly, violence against women and girls) in communities. While most cases of wife beating take place in the home, most of the interventions are implemented at the community level in the form of awareness-raising activities and human rights education.

Thus, tracking the measurement of this indicator over time is of value for program managers and planners. While a direct causal relationship cannot be established, a decrease in the proportion of people who tolerate wife beating in a community may indicate that community-based awareness-raising activities and human rights education interventions are having a positive effect on norms and attitudes at the community level.


The responses to the questions listed under the definition above are prone to social desirability bias. Respondents may be inclined to provide responses that they perceive to be more socially acceptable or appropriate rather than what they actually feel.

Although this indicator is one measurement of attitudes toward interpersonal violence, it only addresses attitudes toward violence against women.  Even though this is more common, men also suffer from sexual abuse and bear the brunt of the adverse physical, emotional, and mental consequences.  According to UNHCR's report on Working with Men and Boy Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Forced Displacement (2012), "where social and cultural norms reinforce gender inequality by casting men as inherently strong and expected to protect women and children, sexualised attacks against men serve not only to diminish their masculinity in their own eyes and the eyes of perpetrators, but can be interpreted by the survivor, perpetrators, and the wider community to be an expression of his sexual orientation or gender identity."  Program evaluators should consider including questions that also measure the acceptability and level of tolerance of violence against boys and men.


attitude, violence

Bloom S.  “Violence Against Women and Girls: A Compendium of Monitoring and Evaluation Indicators.”  USAID, IGWG, and MEASURE Evaluation, 2008.

World Health Organization. WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women: Summary Report of Initial Results on Prevalence, Health Outcomes and Women’s Responses. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2005 & Macro International, DHS Module A.

UNHCR. Working with Men and Boy Survivors of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Forced Displacement, Geneva, Switzerland, 2012.

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