Theses Doctoral

Three Essays Analyzing the Impact of Community and Neighborhood Factors on Intimate Partner Violence against Women in Uganda

Carlson, Catherine E.

The overall aim of the proposed dissertation is to enhance understanding of the impact of the community and neighborhood in preventing violence against women, and how women who have been displaced from their communities may be at increased risk of violence. This three-paper dissertation utilized secondary data sources from two studies of IPV against women in Uganda: the SASA! Study and the Ugandan Demographic and Health Study (UDHS). The first paper used quantitative data from the baseline of the SASA! study (a cluster randomized controlled trial of a community-based intervention to prevent violence against women and HIV/AIDS, called SASA!), a representative sample of community members in two districts in Kampala. This study hypothesized that women who live in neighborhoods with higher levels of collective efficacy to prevent IPV would be at decreased risk of experiencing male-perpetrated IPV. Using a multi-level logistics model, there was no significant neighborhood effect on intimate partner violence related to collective efficacy or otherwise. However, women with higher levels of self-efficacy to prevent IPV against others were significantly less likely to experience physical IPV themselves. Other fixed effect factors, including younger age, no education, higher number of children, having no electricity, not earning an income, and partner's daily alcohol use significantly predicted women's risk of IPV. Potential research and practice implications will be discussed. The second paper utilized secondary analyses of the impact of displacement on IPV against women from the Demographic and Health Survey, a representative community sample of women throughout Uganda. Using propensity score matching, this study attempts to determine the causal effect of displacement on women's experiences of intimate partner violence. Given that assumptions hold, the results indicate that women who are displaced in northern Uganda are less likely to experience IPV than if they had not been displaced. Potential explanations for these findings, such as the renegotiation of gender during displacement and the impact of the humanitarian Cluster Approach, will be discussed. The third paper is an in-depth qualitative study using secondary analysis of focus groups with community leaders in Kampala Uganda, also from the baseline of the SASA! study. Key findings using framework analysis of focus group discussions with religious leaders, sengas/traditional aunties, health care workers, police and local council leaders suggest a widely held justification for violence against women based on an underlying cultural belief in men's authority over women and expectations on women. The belief in men's power over women manifests in three, interrelated themes: men's authority, blaming women, and controlling women's sexuality. Few dissenting voices argued against violence against women for reasons related to the impact on the children and the need for women and men to live with peace and happiness in the home. Overall, despite numerous justifications for violence against women, community leaders expressed a strong sense of responsibility in responding to violence against women, particularly in life threatening situations. Suggested strategies for intervening in situations of violence against women in the home included recruiting elders, talking to the men about the violence, calling upon help from local council leaders, and reporting to the police. These suggested strategies were not, however, without underlying sentiments of men's authority and associated risks faced by community leaders. Community leaders also expressed a sense of responsibility in helping organize community members for prevention activities, although they did not see their role as leaders or facilitators of these efforts.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Burnette, Denise
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 30, 2013