The SWMENA survey asked Yemeni respondents questions to assess their personal experiences of domestic violence, as well as their beliefs regarding domestic violence and its acceptability.
Married Yemeni women were asked about how they and their husbands resolve conflicts or disagreements in their marriage. A minority of women (2%) report that disagreements lead to tensions and violence. A significant majority of women – over 50% – state that they resolve their marital conflicts through rational dialogue. Nineteen percent of women report that disagreements in most cases lead to tensions involving yelling and insults, and 18% of women report that they go to their parent’s house as a result of conflict (Figure 7).
Figure 8 demonstrates that Yemeni men and women find that violence toward women by their husbands largely intolerable. Overall, women report that domestic violence is completely rejected at higher rates than do men (89% and 71% respectively). Only 6% of women report that domestic violence is widely or somewhat tolerated within their families or tribe, while 13% of men state that violence is widely or somewhat tolerated.
Women’s responses remained similar across both urban and rural areas, as well as all regions.
Yemeni respondents were asked about situations that may lead husbands to resort to domestic violence. Table 2 shows the top ten responses that women listed as causes. Women and men most commonly cited the wife doing or saying something wrong that merits punishment. Over a third of women (36%) and almost a third of men (32%) report that such an incident may lead to domestic violence. Almost one-fifth of each gender report a lack of communication or understanding as a potential cause of violence. Only 8% of men and women believe that a women’s infidelity could lead to domestic violence. Very few women and men cite low education, or intellectual levels and religious reasons as causes that may lead to domestic violence – 5% of women and 11% of men report low educational levels, and 2% of women and men state that a lack of readiness for marriage could cause violence.
When asked about their personal beliefs regarding the acceptability of domestic violence in certain situations, respondents strongly indicated that it is not acceptable for husbands to beat their wives. Overall, neither men nor women find that domestic violence is ever acceptable, and this remains true across education, size of place and all regions (Figure 9).
Despite the overwhelming stated belief that domestic violence is never acceptable, when asked if it is justified for a women’s husband to beat her in specific situations, fewer respondents indicated that domestic violence is never justified. Figure 10 indicates that women are slightly more likely than men to state that it is always justified for women to be beaten by their husbands. Nine percent of women believe it is justified if a woman neglected her household duties vs. 4% of men, and one in ten women think that it is justified if a woman neglected her children, vs. 5% of men.
Overall, the majority of women and men believe that it is never justified for a woman to be beaten by her husband. No less than 59% of either gender responded that domestic violence is never justified. Since almost half of Yemeni women report that they cannot leave the house without permission (Figure 1), perhaps it is not surprising that men and women find this to be the situation in which it is most justified for women to be beaten by their husbands. Forty percent of men and 37% of women report that it is always or sometimes justified for a man to beat his wife if she leaves the house without permission. Similarly, 22% of men and 26% of women state that domestic violence is always or sometimes justified if a woman neglects her household responsibilities (Figure 10).
Respondents report that domestic violence is always or sometimes justified most frequently when “she went out without telling her husband.” Responses varied slightly by education, working for pay, density of residential area and region. Although women still tend to report that domestic violence is never justified, even if a woman leaves the house without permission, up to 56% of women (those in the Eastern region) report that it is always or sometimes justified for a man to beat his wife in this situation.