Abstract: Educational Attainment and the Risk of Intimate Partner Violence in Zambia – Sub-Saharan Africa (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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189P Educational Attainment and the Risk of Intimate Partner Violence in Zambia – Sub-Saharan Africa

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Donika Byng, MSW Student, Brigham Young University, UT
Sherinah Saasa, PhD, Assistant Professor, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Selina Forsyth, MSW, PhD Student, Washington University in Saint Louis, Saint Louis, MO
Justin Jacobson, MSW, Student, Brigham Young University, UT
Background and Purpose: In recent years, Sub-Saharan Africa has seen significant rates of IPV with prevalence ranging from 25.7% to 48%, with Zambia having the highest prevalence rates. Research points to individual and contextual factors associated with IPV such as childhood exposure to IPV, low education level and cultural beliefs about abuse. However, while much research has been conducted on social indicators of physical abuse and risk factors associated with IPV, not enough has been done to address women’s level of educational attainment and the education disparity in marital relationships among women. Utilizing resource theory and feminist theory, this study examined risk and protective factors of physical and sexual abuse from a sample of Zambian women exposed to IPV as children.

Method: This study utilized cross-sectional survey data from the Zambia Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS) 2013-14. The sample included 2,871 married women between the ages of 15-49 who witnessed parental IPV as children. The outcome of interest was type of violence experienced, either physical or sexual. Predictor variables included education attainment, couple education disparity, woman’s decision-making power, occupation, type of residence, household wealth, region, participant age and cultural beliefs about wife beating. Logistic regression was conducted in Stata to analyze the data.

Results: About 44% of participants reported having experienced physical forms of violence and about 21% of participants reported the experience of sexual violence. Of the 2871 women in the study, more than half (58.7%) held the belief that beatings by their partners were justified. Women who held this belief were more likely to experience physical violence (OR = 1.73, p < .001) and sexual violence (OR = 1.75, p < .001) compared to those who did not believe abuse was justified. The logistic model showed that women who completed secondary school had decreased odds of experiencing physical violence (OR = 0.36, p < .01) compared to those who had no education. Additionally, women who had incomplete primary school education had increased odds of experiencing sexual violence (OR = 1.58, p < .05) compared to those who had no education. There were no statistically significant effects of spousal education disparity, age and household wealth on the outcomes.

Conclusions and Implications: Results from this study indicate that increased education can act as a protective factor against abuse, but does not do so uniformly across levels of education or types of abuse. However, believing that wife-beating is justified seems to be a consistent risk factor for physical and sexual IPV. Further investigation is warranted to explore how education affects attitudes about the acceptability of IPV, as well as other interventions that may be useful in changing imbedded ideologies and cultural beliefs about abuse. As both formal and informal education systems may present opportunities to challenge unhealthy beliefs about abuse, social work researchers and practitioners could work to identify and advocate for IPV awareness within schools as well as community-supported programs.