Physical violence by husbands: magnitude, disclosure and help-seeking behavior of women in Bangladesh

Soc Sci Med. 2006 Jun;62(12):2917-29. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.12.001. Epub 2006 Jan 19.


This paper explores the magnitude of physical violence by husbands, the disclosure of it and the help-seeking behavior of abused women in urban and rural Bangladesh. The data come from a larger study on domestic violence against women conducted in Bangladesh during 2000-2004. All ever-married women covered by the population-based survey component (n=2702) conducted in 2001 were included in the current analysis. We also draw on in-depth interviews with 28 women who were physically abused by their husbands. Results show a high prevalence of lifetime physical spousal violence against women: 40% in urban and 42% in rural areas. Most of the abused women (66%) were silent about their experience. The main reasons behind this silence were high acceptance of violence, stigma and fear of greater harm. Sixty percent of urban and 51% of rural abused women never received any help from others. Only 2% ever sought help from institutional sources, from where support was not forthcoming. Women approached these sources only when they could not endure anymore or the violence became life threatening or children were at risk. The findings show that although providing appropriate services is absolutely necessary, it is also important to foster the use of such services and to help women overcome the barriers for accessing these services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • Battered Women / psychology*
  • Battered Women / statistics & numerical data
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Population
  • Self Disclosure
  • Spouse Abuse / prevention & control*
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Stereotyping
  • Urban Population
  • Women's Health