When researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) distributed a survey asking people in Senegal whether it was acceptable for a husband to hit his wife, most (81 percent of men and 92 percent of women) said “no.” But when CCP, which is based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, conducted more in-depth research as part of the Neema program, a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded health initiative, the men and women they met sometimes told a different story. “It’s normal to be beaten,” one woman told the researchers.
CCP’s Mr. Timothy Werwie published an analysis of interview data in the Journal of Family Violence last month.
Twenty-eight focus groups that comprised a total of 297 men and women met in seven regions of Senegal to discuss how and why gender-based violence exists in their communities. Both men and women described what they considered an “acceptable level” of day-to-day physical violence — for example, slapping or hitting that doesn’t cause physical injury or visible harm — as a normal and appropriate way to discipline a “misbehaving” wife. Most men and women agreed, however, that physical violence became “unacceptable” once it caused visible harm or injury.
CCP is now working with local partners to reduce or eliminate gender-based violence through strategic messaging and programs in these regions of Senegal. The CCP team is also exploring ways to improve communication between spouses through a human-centered design process.Friday Letter Submission