Multilevel Influences on Men’s Partner Violence Justification, Control Over Family Decisions, and Partner Violence Perpetration in Bangladesh

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Objective: Men’s justification of intimate partner violence (IPV), control, and IPV perpetration persist globally. We tested feminist theories of dominant masculinity norms and gendered social learning in childhood to explain young married men’s violent attitudes and behaviors. Method: The sample was ever-married—junior men (18–29 years, n = 774), senior men (30–54 years, n = 2,398), and women (15–49 years, n = 3,841)—in 307 communities from the 2007 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey. Two-level logistic regression models tested whether community norms of masculine dominance and childhood exposure to father-on-mother IPV were associated with higher odds of justifying IPV, controlling family decisions, and perpetrating physical IPV. Results: Compared with senior men, junior men more often justified IPV, controlled family decisions, and perpetrated physical IPV in the prior year; junior men also more often were exposed as children to father-on-mother IPV. In multilevel models, witnessing father-on-mother IPV in childhood and living amid stronger norms of masculine dominance were associated, respectively, with higher adjusted odds of justifying IPV (adjusted odds ratios [aORs] = 1.86 and 33.45), controlling family decisions (aORs = 2.03 and 25.03), and perpetrating physical IPV (aORs = 3.19 and 3.39). Conclusion: Findings support a situational, feminist social ecological model of the influences of community norms of masculine dominance and of gendered social learning on young men’s violent attitudes and behavior in marriage. Promoting positive masculinities and reducing men’s exposure to violence in childhood may be needed to curtail violence against women in Bangladesh and similar settings.

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