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Acceptability of domestic violence against women in the European Union: a multilevel analysis


Study objective: The acceptability of domestic violence against women (DVAW) plays an important part in shaping the social environment in which the victims are embedded, which in turn may contribute either to perpetuate or to reduce the levels of DVAW in our societies. This study analyses correlates of the acceptability of DVAW in the European Union (EU).

Design: Three level ordinal logistic regression of 13 457 people nested within 212 localities (cities), nested within 15 countries of the EU. Sampling is multistage with random probability. All interviews were face to face in people’s homes. The outcome variable was acceptability of DVAW. Multiple correlates at the individual, locality, and country level were analysed.

Setting: European Union, 1999.

Participants: National data were used of residents 15 years old and above of all member states in 1999 (n = 13 457). Average response rate was 47%, although it varied across countries (23%–73%).

Main results: Higher levels of acceptability were reported by those who perceived DVAW as less severe and less frequent. Acceptability is higher among men who know a perpetrator and lower among men who know a victim. Victim blaming attitude is associated with higher levels of acceptability. In countries with higher gender empowerment measure the difference in acceptability among those who blame and those who do not blame the victim is greater.

Conclusions: There are still widespread attitudes in the EU such as victim blaming that condone DVAW, contributing to a climate of social acceptability of DVAW. Further efforts to reduce the acceptability of DVAW are still needed.

  • DVAW, domestic violence against women
  • EU, European Union
  • GEM, gender empowerment measure
  • domestic violence
  • violence against women
  • attitude
  • multilevel analysis
  • European Union

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