Attitudes toward intimate partner “honor”-based violence in India, Iran, Malaysia and Pakistan

Published date08 October 2018
Date08 October 2018
AuthorMichelle Lowe,Roxanne Khan,Vanlal Thanzami,Mahsa Barzy,Rozina Karmaliani
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression, conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology, policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
Attitudes toward intimate partner honor-
based violence in India, Iran, Malaysia
and Pakistan
Michelle Lowe, Roxanne Khan, Vanlal Thanzami, Mahsa Barzy and Rozina Karmaliani
Purpose Although intimate partner violence (IPV) and honor-based violence (HBV ) are major concerns
throughout the world, little research has investigated the acceptance of these forms of abuse outside of the
West. The purpose of this paper is to therefore respond to this gap in the literature by exploring attitudes
toward HBV in a fictional depiction of IPV across four Asian samples: India, Iran, Malaysia and Pakistan.
Design/methodology/approach Participants (n ¼579) read a hypothetical scenario in which a husband,
despite his own marital infidelity, verbally abuses and physically assaults his wife after discovering that
she has been unfaithful. Participants then completed a questionnaire that assessed perceptions of damage
to the husbands honor, approval of intimate partner HBV against the wife, and perceptions of both the
victim-wife and the perpetrator-husband.
Findings The findings revealed that more males than females, across all four nations, were endorsing of
honor-adhering attitudes in response to the perceived threat to the husbands reputation resulting from the
wifes infidelity. Additionally, of the four samples, Pakistani participants were the most approving and
Malaysians least endorsing of honor-adhering attitudes.
Originality/value The results are discussed in relation to studies of honor-adherence in Asian populations.
This study provides an original glimpse into the perceptions of intimate partner HBV in these not-often
sampled nationalities.
Keywords Attitudes, Intimate partner violence, Honor-based violence, Perceptions, Collectivist cultures,
Cultural factors
Paper type Research paper
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a major concern for health, criminal justice and economies
worldwide (Dietrich and Schuett, 2013). Global prevalence is high, with cultural factors
influencing both the rates of IPV and attitudes toward the acceptability of using this form of
violence (Madhani et al., 2017). For example, evidence suggests that IPV disproportionately
affects women from honor cultures in parts of Asia (Mayeda and Vijaykumar, 2016). For instance,
data from over 69,000 Indian women who completed the 2005-2006 National Family Health
Survey indicated that in the 12 months prior to the study, 31 percent had been victims of physical
abuse and 8 percent of sexual abuse at home (Kimuna et al., 2012). In a study of 400 Iranian
women, a notable proportion reported that they had experienced psychological/verbal
(58 percent), physical (29 percent) and sexual abuse (10 percent) (Sheikhbardsiri et al., 2017).
More specifically, the most recent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan annual report (2015)
cites that in the last three years alone, around 2,300 women have been victims of honorkilling.
Other sources indicate that on average there are more than 10,000 honorkillings per year in
just this one nation alone (Kirti et al., 2011). It is estimated that Pakistan has the highest global
rate of honorkilling (Her Majestys Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), 2015).
Culturesof honor place a high premium on a familysrespectable social image( Brownet al.,2009).
A core expectation in honor cultures, which are collectivist and patriarchal in structure, is that
females and males adhere to strict gender roles (Galanti, 2003; Rivera et al., 2008). This social
expectation dictates that females demonstrate their worth by exhibiting loyalty, humility,
Received 13 October 2017
Revised 17 November 2017
Accepted 19 February 2018
Michelle Lowe is Reader in
Criminological and Forensic
Psychology at the Department
of Psychology, Faculty of
Wellbeing and
Social Sciences, University of
Bolton, Bolton, UK.
Roxanne Khan is Senior
Lecturer in Forensic
Psychology at the School of
Psychology, University of
Central Lancashire,
Preston, UK.
Vanlal Thanzami is Senior
Lecturer at the Jeffrey Cheah
School of Medicine and Health
Sciences, Monash University,
Bandar Sunway, Malaysia.
Mahsa Barzy is PhD
Researcher at the School of
Psychology, University of Kent,
Canterbury, UK.
Rozina Karmaliani is Professor
at the School of Nursing and
Midwifery, Aga Khan University,
Karachi, Pakistan.
DOI 10.1108/JACPR-09-2017-0324 VOL. 10 NO. 4 2018, pp.283-292, © Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599

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