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Measuring domestic violence: context is everything

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Measurement of domestic violence in population surveys has generated significant debate over a number of years, with researchers and practitioners split over the extent to which violence in intimate relationships is 'gendered'. While many surveys suggest women and men experience similar levels of domestic violence, domestic violence practitioners see abuse as perpetrated primarily by men against women. Those writing from a feminist-advocate perspective propose that 'gender symmetrical' headline survey prevalence estimates are misleading and reflect problems with existing measurement frameworks. Two potential solutions have emerged to this problem: measuring acts of physical violence and associated criminal offences more accurately, and measuring the nonphysically abusive context in which many acts of violence are situated. This article proposes that these two solutions are not incompatible, and that, in fact, both are desirable in order to illuminate fully the gendered nature of intimate violence. But while counting the frequency and severity of physical violence committed by men and women will go some way towards foregrounding gender in this debate, measuring non-violent coercion that falls outside traditional crime codes is fundamental, both to highlighting the true nature and severity of abuse experienced by women and men and identifying primary victims and perpetrators.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: May 2017

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Gender-Based Violence (JGBV), is the first international journal based in Europe to show case the work of scholars across disciplinary and topic boundaries, and from a range of methodologies.

    The journal acknowledges both the breadth of gender-based violence (GBV) and its links to gendered inequalities. It aims to continue to document the voices and experiences of victims and survivors of GBV, to publish work regarding those who perpetrate GBV and of the varied and complex social structures, inequalities and gender norms through which GBV is produced and sustained. The journal recognises the intersection of gender with other identities and power relations, such as ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, faith, disability and economic status.

    JGBV will publish high quality papers that contribute to understanding of GBV, policy, and/or activism, on sexual violence, domestic abuse, ‘honour’-based violence, prostitution, trafficking and/or reproductive violence and abuse in a wide range of intimate, familial, community and societal contexts.

    The editors invite interest from scholars working across the social sciences and related fields including social policy, sociology, politics, criminology, law, social psychology, development and economics, as well as disciplines allied to medicine, health and wellbeing.

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