Physical Violence Against Women
English: % of women aged 15 - 49 who experienced severe physical violence in the past 12 months
French: % de femmes âgées de 15 à 49 ans ayant subi des violences physiques graves au cours des 12 derniers mois
Portuguese: % de mulheres com idades entre 15 e 49 anos que sofreram violência física grave nos últimos 12 meses
Czech: % žen ve věku 15 - 49 let, které během posledních 12 měsíců byly fyzicky vážně napadeny
What is its purpose?
Freedom from violence is a critical aspect of women’s empowerment and greater gender equality. This indicator therefore measures the proportion of women who in the past 12 months experienced severe physical violence. Considering how sensitive (and in some ways also demanding) the collection of the required data is, it should be used only in interventions that are specifically addressing the prevention and response to gender-based violence.
How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data
Collect the following data by conducting individual interviews with a representative sample of women aged 15 - 49 years:
RECOMMENDED SURVEY QUESTIONS (Q) AND POSSIBLE ANSWERS (A)
Introduction: Life often brings both good and bad moments. I would now like to ask you some questions about the bad moments that life sometimes brings. If anyone comes near us I will change the topic of our interview. I would again like to assure you that your answers will be kept secret, and that you do not have to answer any questions that you do not want to. May I continue?
A0: the respondent provided consent / the respondent refused to continue
Q1: In the past 12 months, has someone ever hit you with a fist or with something else that could hurt you?
Q2: In the past 12 months, has someone ever kicked you, dragged you or beaten you?
Q3: In the past 12 months, has someone ever choked or burned you on purpose?
Q4: In the past 12 months, has someone ever threatened to use or actually used a gun, knife or other weapon against you?
A1-4: yes / no / did not respond
In all instances where the answer is “yes”, it is recommended (though not required) that you also ask the following questions:
Q5: In the past 12 months, would you say that this has happened once, a few times or many times?
A5: once / a few times / many times
Q6: Who was the person or people who did this to you? You do not need to tell me any names and I assure you that I will not share your response with anyone living in this area.
A6: [multiple options possible; if the gender of the attacker is not clear from the answer, ask about it]
1) her partner
2) her male family member
3) her female family member
4) her male friend
5) her female friend
6) a man she knew
7) a woman she knew
8) a stranger
9) did not respond
To calculate the indicator’s value:
1) exclude those respondents who did not report any incidence of physical violence but refused or could not respond to one or more questions
2) divide the number of the remaining respondents who replied “yes” to one or more of the questions (Q1-4) by the total number of respondents (do not count those you excluded in step 1)
3) multiply the result by 100
1) Measuring the prevalence of physical violence is sensitive and poses risks to the respondent as well as to the enumerator. Furthermore, women might find it difficult or not be willing to report on the incidence of physical violence. As a very minimum, adopt the following measures:
- read and apply the Ethical and Safety Guidelines for Implementing the DHS Domestic Violence Module (see below)
- ensure that all enumerators are women that were trained in the principles of gender-sensitive interviewing and are not from the same communities as the interviewees
- instruct the enumerators to ensure that the interviews are conducted in a place where no one else can hear or observe the respondent (even from a neighbouring room or from behind a wall); if the enumerators cannot ensure complete privacy, they should skip this part and move to less sensitive parts of the questionnaire
- instruct the enumerators to re-assure the respondent about the confidentiality of her answers
- train the enumerators to quickly switch the topic if during the interview someone comes near the respondent
- train the enumerators in how to close the topic and move to the next part of your survey in a sensitive manner
- provide the enumerators with the lists of service-providers (and their services) that can provide support to respondents experiencing violence
- ensure that there is emotional support available to the enumerators
2) Consider including additional question assessing whether the woman that suffered from physical violence has told anyone about it and if so, who (use general categories, such as “a friend” – do not ask about specific people or names).
3) If required for your project’s M&E purposes, you can extend the reference period - for example, to “in the past 2 years” (however, the standard period commonly used in surveys is 12 months).
4) In order to accurately record even smaller changes in the baseline and endline values of this indicator, consider using a larger than usual sample size (so that the margin of error is not larger than 3-4 percentage points).
5) The guidance for this indicator was developed based on WHO (2005) Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women and Oxfam (2017) Measuring Women’s Empowerment.
Access Additional Guidance
- MEASURE Evaluation (2008) Violence Against Women and Girls: A Compendium of M&E Indicators (.pdf)
- The DHS Program (0) Ethical and Safety Guidelines for Implementing the DHS Domestic Violence Module (.pdf)
- WHO (2005) Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women (.pdf)
- Oxfam (2017) A ‘How To’ Guide to Measuring Women’s Empowerment (.pdf)