A recent Afrobarometer survey on domestic violence shows 28 percent of Malawians view wife-beating as justifiable.
The survey, conducted between September 2016 and September 2018 in 34 African countries, found that about 71 percent of men and women in Malawi perceived wife-beating to be unjustified while one percent were neutral.
Non-Governmental Organisations Gender Coordinating Network (NGO-GCN) chairperson Barbara Banda has since said the survey results indicate progress in Malawi’s fight against gender-based violence (GBV).
According to the survey, Malawi has the highest tolerance for GBV among its neighbours as 21 percent of Mozambicans justify wife beating while finding Zimbabwe and Zambia have 18 percent each and Tanzania has only nine percent finding wife beating justifiable.
But in a telephone interview yesterday, Banda called for more efforts towards achieving gender equality, saying the country would achieve more as gender imbalances put women at a disadvantage.
She said: “From the findings, it looks like Malawi has a better disposition in terms of understanding gender issues. When we look at the parameter of wife beating, it is a very strong point of perpetrating patriarchal tendencies.”
Banda also said the percentages do not only reflect progress in terms of awareness of gender-related issues, but also that laws are becoming strict enough to strengthen the position of women.
The survey was carried out in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with a nationally representative sample yielding country-level results with margins of error of +2/3 to +3 percentage points at 95 percent confidence level.
According to the 2018 Malawi Demographic Health Survey (DHS), about 41 percent of women between the ages of 15 to 44 experience either physical or sexual violence.
The survey also found that about 96 percent of reported GBV cases are orchestrated by men.
“For both women and men, tolerance of wife beating decreases with wealth. However, women and men in the highest quintile are much less likely to report attitude that accept wife beating compared to those in lower wealth quintiles,” reads part of the DHS report.
The Afrobarometer Survey took the form of face-to-face interviews. Respondents were asked whether it can always be justified, sometimes be justified or never justified to beat a wife, to arrive at conclusion. The survey interviewed men and women within the age range of 18 to 66 years.