Current Status + Progress
In certain cultures, violence may be perceived as a normal and acceptable way to resolve conflict

Although violence against children is found worldwide, the reasons it occurs and persists may vary in different cultures. Understanding the norms that govern a society can provide clues to the underlying causes of such violence and how it can be prevented. Different social norms can help explain the widespread use of violence against children. In certain cultures, for example, violence may be perceived as a normal and acceptable way to resolve conflict. Data on attitudes towards wife-beating offer clues on how girls and women are perceived within a given society. Such information may also help explain why intimate partner violence against adolescent girls persists in many countries. Examining attitudes towards corporal punishment sheds light on cultural views regarding child-rearing and offers relevant insights for the development of strategies aimed at promoting positive parenting practices.

Attitudes towards wife-beating

Across all regions, girls and women are more likely to justify wife-beating than boys and men
Percentage of girls and women and boys and men aged 15 to 49 years who think that a husband/partner is justified in hitting or beating his wife or partner under certain circumstances, by region

*Excludes China

Notes: Regional estimates represent data from countries covering at least 50 per cent of the regional population of girls and women and boys and men aged 15 to 49. Data coverage was insufficient to calculate global and regional estimates for girls and women and boys and men for CEE/CIS, Latin America and the Caribbean and South Asia and for boys and men for East Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East and North Africa.

Source: UNICEF global databases, 2016, based on Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and other nationally representative surveys, 2010-2015.

Attitudes towards corporal punishment of children

Only a minority of adults in most countries think physical punishment is a necessary form of discipline
Percentage of adults who think that physical punishment is necessary to raise/educate children

Notes: For Argentina, the sample was national and urban (municipalities with a population of more than 5,000), since the country’s rural population is scattered and accounts for less than 10 per cent of the total. Data for Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Georgia, Jordan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu refer to mothers/primary caregivers. Data for Lebanon and Morocco refer to children aged 2 to 14 years whose mother/primary caregiver thinks that physical punishment is necessary to raise/educate children. Data for all other countries refer to any adult household member who responded to questions about child discipline.

Source: UNICEF global databases, 2016, based on DHS, MICS and other nationally representative surveys, 2005-2014.

Discrepancies between attitudes and practice

Many children are subjected to physical punishment even when adults in the household do not think it is a necessary form of discipline
Percentage of adults who think that physical punishment is necessary to raise/educate children and the percentage of children aged 2 to 14 years who experienced any physical punishment in the previous month

Notes: For Argentina, the sample was national and urban (municipalities with a population of more than 5,000), since the country’s rural population is scattered and accounts for less than 10 per cent of the total. Data for Belarus , Qatar and Yemen pertaining to the percentage of children aged 2 to 14 years who experienced any physical punishment in the previous month differ from the standard definition. Data for Bangladesh, Cuba,  the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Montenegro, Nepal, Panama , Serbia, State of Palestine, Togo, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe refer to children aged 1 to 14 years. Data for Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Georgia, Jordan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago and Vanuatu refer to mothers/primary caregivers. Data for all other countries refer to any adult household member who responded to questions about child discipline.

Source: UNICEF global databases, 2016, based on DHS, MICS and other nationally representative surveys, 2005-2014.

Access The Data
Percentage of boys and men 15-49 years old who consider a husband to be justified in hitting or beating his wife for at least one of the specified reasons, i.e., if his wife burns the food, argues with him, goes out without telling him, neglects the child Download Data
Percentage of girls and women 15-49 years old who consider a husband to be justified in hitting or beating his wife for at least one of the specified reasons, i.e., if his wife burns the food, argues with him, goes out without telling him, neglects the childDownload Data
Methodology

DATA SOURCES

Data are derived from household surveys, most commonly Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), in which women (and men, where applicable) are asked whether they think a husband (or partner) is justified in hitting or beating his wife (or partner) under certain circumstances. Questions are addressed to all women and men aged 15 to 49 years, regardless of their marital status and experience of violence.

MAIN INDICATORS

The standard indicator refers to the percentage of women and men aged 15 to 49 years who think a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife in at least one of the following circumstances: 1) she goes out without telling him, 2) she neglects the children, 3) she argues with him, 4) she refuses sex with him, or 5) she burns the food. Some countries have adapted the standard questionnaire to their social contexts by including different circumstances, such as the woman spends too much money, she disobeys, she is unfaithful, she insults him, she neglects household chores, she disrespects her in-laws, or she speaks about the need to protect herself against HIV.

In some surveys, data are collected on an expanded age range for men (commonly ages 15 to 54 or 59 years).

INTERPRETING THE DATA

Supportive attitudes should not necessarily be interpreted as approval of wife-beating, nor should they imply that a woman or girl will inevitably become a victim of domestic violence. Rather, they should be seen as indicative of the degree of social acceptance of such practices. This can be influenced by the perception that women and girls have a lower status in society than men and boys or the expectation that they should fulfil certain gender roles.

MICS MODULE ON ATTITUDES TOWARD DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

MICS surveys have a standardized module on attitudes toward domestic violence.

Download the MICS module on attitudes toward domestic violence (PDF)