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Men's exposure to human rights violations and relations with perpetration of intimate partner violence in South Africa
  1. Jhumka Gupta1,
  2. Elizabeth Reed2,
  3. Jocelyn Kelly3,
  4. Dan J Stein4,
  5. David R Williams5
  1. 1Yale School of Public Health; New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  2. 2George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, Washington, DC, USA
  3. 3Harvard Humanitarian Initiative; Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4Department of Psychiatry University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  5. 5Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jhumka Gupta, Global Health Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, 60 College Street, Suite 400, New Haven, CT 06510, USA; jhumka.gupta{at}


Background Despite widespread apartheid-related human rights violations (HRV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) in South Africa, research investigating the influence of HRV on IPV perpetration is scarce.

Methods This study analysed data from the South Africa Stress and Health Study, a cross-sectional survey conducted from 2003 to 2004 with 4351 South Africans examining public health concerns associated with apartheid. Analyses were restricted to men who had ever been married or had ever cohabited with a female partner. Logistic regression was used to examine associations between experiences of HRV and lifetime physical IPV perpetration.

Results A total of 772 South Africa men met the study criteria (389 liberation supporters and 383 government supporters). Adjusted logistic regression analyses indicated that among liberation supporters, a significant association existed between experiencing major HRV (AOR 2.40, 95% CI 1.20 to 4.81), custody-related HRV (AOR 6.61, 95% CI 2.00 to 21.83), victimisation of close friends/family members (AOR 3.38, 95% CI 1.26 to 9.07) and physical IPV perpetration. Among government supporters, a significant association was observed between experiencing HRV (AOR 2.99, 95% CI 1.34 to 6.65) and victimisation of close friends/immediate family (AOR 5.42, 95% CI 1.44 to 19.02) and IPV perpetration.

Conclusion This work indicates the importance of men's experiences with HRV with regard to IPV perpetration risk. Future work is needed to understand the mechanisms underlying the observed relationships, particularly regarding mental health and gender norms as suggested by current literature, in order to inform interventions in South Africa and other regions affected by politically motivated conflict.

  • Human rights
  • intimate partner violence
  • South Africa
  • violence RB

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  • Funding The activities of the World Mental Health Survey Initiative were supported by the US National Institute of Mental Health (grant R01MH070884), the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, the Pfizer Foundation, the US Public Health Service (grants R13-MH066849, R01-MH069864 and R01 DA016558), the Fogarty International Center (grant FIRCA R01-TW006481), the Pan-American Health Organization, Eli Lilly and Co, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc, GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The South Africa Stress and Health Study was funded by grant R01-MH059575 from the US National Institute of Mental Health and the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, with supplemental funding from the South African Department of Health and the University of Michigan. JG's work was partly supported by award T32MH020031 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the US National Institutes of Health. A complete list of publications related to the World Mental Health Survey Initiative can be found at

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University of Michigan, Harvard Medical School and the Medical University of South Africa.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.