Intimate partner violence and belief systems in Liberia

Mary Allen, Catherine Devitt
Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2012, 27 (17): 3514-31
Intimate partner violence is endemic in parts of the African continent. A small scale survey (n = 229) was conducted in 2009 in Northern Liberia, West Africa, to determine the prevalence and nature of intimate partner violence, and the cultural beliefs and gender norms that underpin respondent experiences and views towards intimate partner violence. Results show widespread experience of intimate partner violence among the respondent group, including physical abuse, sexual and verbal, and economic abuse. Acceptance of the situation was identified by most respondents as a way of responding to violence, and arises from the lack of financial and legal supports for women within the community. Despite the range of abuses experienced, beliefs about the power position of men in Liberian society provide evidence to reflect the predominance of certain cultural beliefs in framing respondents' perceptions of gender relations. The article concludes with a discussion on the possible impact of Liberia's recent conflict in contributing to the perpetuation and normalization of intimate partner violence. Further large scale research in this area is required.

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