Economic violence to women and girls: is it receiving the necessary attention?

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2008 Jul;9(3):167-77. doi: 10.1177/1524838008319255. Epub 2008 May 21.


Most studies on gender-based violence (GBV) have focused on its physical, sexual, and psychological manifestations. This paper seeks to draw attention to the types of economic violence experienced by women, and describes its consequences on health and development. Economic violence experienced included limited access to funds and credit; controlling access to health care, employment, education, including agricultural resources; excluding from financial decision making; and discriminatory traditional laws on inheritance, property rights, and use of communal land. At work women experienced receiving unequal remuneration for work done equal in value to the men's, were overworked and underpaid, and used for unpaid work outside the contractual agreement. Some experienced fraud and theft from some men, illegal confiscation of goods for sale, and unlawful closing down of worksites. At home, some were barred from working by partners; while other men totally abandoned family maintenance to the women. Unfortunately, economic violence results in deepening poverty and compromises educational attainment and developmental opportunities for women. It leads to physical violence, promotes sexual exploitation and the risk of contracting HIV infection, maternal morbidity and mortality, and trafficking of women and girls. Economic abuse may continue even after the woman has left the abusive relationship. There is need for further large-scale studies on economic violence to women. Multi-strategy interventions that promote equity between women and men, provide economic opportunities for women, inform them of their rights, reach out to men and change societal beliefs and attitudes that permit exploitative behavior are urgently required.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Battered Women* / statistics & numerical data
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Educational Status
  • Employment / economics
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • HIV Infections / economics
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Power, Psychological
  • Prejudice*
  • Social Perception*
  • Spouse Abuse / economics*
  • Spouse Abuse / prevention & control
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Women's Health / economics*
  • Women's Rights / economics*
  • Women's Rights / statistics & numerical data