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Women’s Decision-Making Autonomy and their Attitude towards Wife-Beating: Findings from the 2011 Ethiopia’s Demographic and Health Survey

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The study examined the extent of wife-beating acceptance and factors that influence women’s attitude towards wife-beating in Ethiopia from a nationally representative sample of 11,658 participants in the 2011 Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey. Multivariate logistic regressions were fitted to investigate the relationships between women’s attitude towards wife-beating and women’s decision-making autonomy after controlling for socio-demographic factors. The majority (56%) of women agreed that wife-beating is justified when wife neglects children, 53% when wife burns the food, 50% when wife argues with husband, 48% when wife goes out without telling husband, and nearly 45% when wife refuses to have sex with husband. Overall, 51% of women had shown highly favorable attitude towards wife-beating. Women’s place of residence, household wealth quintiles, educational levels, marital status, and husband/partner’s employment status have shown significant association with women’s attitude towards wife-beating. Women’s decision-making autonomy was also a significant predictor of women’s attitude towards wife-beating. The odds of having highly favorable attitude towards wife-beating deceased significantly as the level of decision-making autonomy of women improved. Given the widespread acceptance of wife-beating among Ethiopian women, social policies that empower women could serve as a positive force in changing attitudes towards wife-beating and violence against women.

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We would like to thank the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) Program and ICF International for allowing us to use the database.


No funding was provided to the author, but only granted access to the data. Funding for EDHS 2011 was, however, provided by the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office (HAPCO), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Correspondence to Nasser B. Ebrahim.

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All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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We used secondary data from 2011 Ethiopia’s Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) after access was granted by the DHS Program. Ethical standards were followed and approved by the appropriate national committee.

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Authors contributed equally to this work.

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Ebrahim, N.B., Atteraya, M.S. Women’s Decision-Making Autonomy and their Attitude towards Wife-Beating: Findings from the 2011 Ethiopia’s Demographic and Health Survey. J Immigrant Minority Health 20, 603–611 (2018).

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