The Influence of Domestic Violence against Women on their Socioeconomic Status in the Buea Municipality

Monday, December 5, 2022

The Influence of Domestic Violence against Women on their Socioeconomic Status in the Buea Municipality

Department: Gender Studies

No of Pages: 97

Project Code: GS2

References: Yes

Cost: 5,000XAF Cameroonian

 : $15 for International students

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Domestic violence has continued to be a global epidemic that kills and tortures physically, psychologically, economically and socially. This study sought to investigate the influence of domestic violence against women on their socioeconomic status in the Buea municipality, Cameroon.


The study was meant to achieve two objectives: To investigate the influence of domestic violence against women on their social status and, to analyze the influence of domestic violence against women on their economic status.


The prevalence of domestic is higher in Cameroon as a developing nation. Generally, this research enables you to better understand social conditions and social issues broadly and how these perspectives impact on society’s response.


The theoretical framework that guided this study was based on the Conflict Theory, Social learning theory, Feminist Theory and Power Theory which provided insights on domestic-related violence. This research employed mainly random sampling.


Data was analyzed using Chi square, Pearson correlation coefficient and Anova analysis. 384 women were the target of the study determined using Cochran 1977 formula for calculating sample size for finite population.


A sample size of 100 women, 50 in married relationships, and 50 in unmarried relationships were used for the study. The sample size was determined using the stratified probability sampling technique. In addition, the researcher prepared questionnaires which were administered during the data collection process.


The data helped in generating frequencies and percentages of the variable values. The findings of the study indicated that domestic violence is a vice that affects women from all regions in the Buea municipality.


It was quite prevalent from households where women had low educational levels, young, unemployed, low income levels, and large families which they could not attend to. Additionally, domestic violence had an adverse effect on women’s socioeconomic status.


This study significantly contributed to new knowledge in order to assist researchers and policy makers in understanding of various issues which are related to domestic violence. It is also possible to understand and appreciate with an intention of reducing/curbing the various causes and effects of domestic violence.

The study recommended that in order to curb this issue of domestic violence, women should be empowered through public awareness education, encouraging women to report crimes to police, supporting women through individual work and group work and supporting women through enabling disclosure.




1.1       Background of the study

According to the United States Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner.


 Many types of abuse are included in the definition of domestic violence. They include; physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, and psychological abuse. Domestic violence was formally referred to as “wife abuse”.


This term was however abandoned when the definition of domestic violence was changed to reflect that wives are not the only victims of domestic violence. The definition of domestic violence now recognizes that victims can be spouses, sexual/dating/intimate partners, family members, children, and cohabitants.

For this study, the researcher focused on the influence of domestic violence against women on their socio-economic status in the Buea municipality.


Domestic violence against women is a worldwide yet still hidden problem. Freedom from the threat of harassment, battery and sexual assault is a concept that most of us have a hard time imagining because violence is such a deep part of our cultures and our lives.


Violence against women is woven into the fabric of society to such an extent that many of those who are victimized feel that they are at fault. The world we live in is characterized with gender-based violence.


This is universally present in many forms like wife battering, sexual assaults, rape and so on. Violence is the fate of millions of women all over the world and these are affecting their status in the society (Gberevbie, Osibanjo, Adenji, and Oludayo, 2014).


According to the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations (UN) Commission (1994), violence against women means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

It moves beyond individual acts of violence to include forms of institutionalized sexism that severely compromise the health and well-being of women. A World Health Organization (WHO) report estimates that one in three women across the globe has experienced physical and/or sexual assault at some point in her lifetime, indicating the epidemic scale of such violence.


The report demonstrates the significant health impacts without a doubt, physical and sexual violence perpetrated against women is a major public health concern. Domestic violence against women also has significant economic costs in terms of expenditures on service provision, lost income for women and their families, decreased productivity, and negative impacts on future human capital formation.


The health and economic impacts together fracture individuals, families, communities and societies overall (WHO, 2013). Worldwide estimates published by WHO indicate that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.


Worldwide, almost one third (30%) of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner in their lifetime. Violence can negatively affect women’s physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health, and may increase the risk of acquiring HIV in some settings.

Men are more likely to perpetrate violence if they have low education, a history of child maltreatment, exposure to domestic violence against their mothers, harmful use of alcohol, unequal gender norms including attitudes accepting violence, and a sense of entitlement over women.


Also, Women are more likely to experience intimate partner violence if they have low education, exposure to mothers being abused by a partner, abuse during childhood, and attitudes accepting violence, male privilege, and women’s subordinate status (WHO, 2017).



Statistics published in 1997 by the World Health Organization on studies conducted in 24 countries in America, Europe and Asia revealed that about 20% and 50% of the women interviewed reported that they suffered physical abuse from their male partners.


Moreover, according to an international report on the status of women in 140 countries, the number of women reporting physical abuse by a male partner during the period 1986-1993 was 21% to 60% (Neft & Levine, 1997). Besides, a study done in South Africa showed that one adult woman out of every six is assaulted regularly by her mate.


In at least 46% of these cases, the men involved also abuse the women's children (Russell, 1991). In addition, a study in northern Nigeria found that 16% of female patients seeking treatment for STDs were children under the age of five and 10% of these were cases of incest (UNFPA, 1999). 

In a representative sample taken from two districts of Uganda, women between 20-44 years reported that 41% had been beaten or physically harmed by a partner (Blanc et al, 1996) For majority of women, the persistent insults, abuse, confinement, harassment and deprivation of financial and physical resources may prove more harmful than physical attacks and result in women living in a permanent state of fear and sub-standard, mental and physical health (UNFPA, 1999).


In support of this, the WHO information tool on violence notes that women have reported that the mental torture and living in fear and terror was undoubtedly the worst and most profound and long-lasting aspect of gender-based violence (WHO, 1997).



In developing countries, the underlying cause for many problems including domestic violence is the poor socio-economic conditions of people, which is linked with women’s lack of empowerment and poor social status (Karmaliani et al., 2012)


The Demographic and Health Survey of Egypt for the year 2005 found prevalence rates of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) to be as high as 47%, and the most common perpetrators were current or previous husbands (El-Zanaty & Way, 2006).


A cross-sectional survey of male and female participants in Egypt showed that 30% of men admitted to having committed violence against their wives, and 41% of women reported to have been the victims of physical IPV (Almosaed, 2004).


According to the Amnesty International report for the year 2007, nearly 250 women were murdered by their intimate partners in Egypt. A review of newspaper reports in that country indicated that most women are killed because of doubts about illegitimate relations, and in 41% of cases, the murderer was the husband (Palvia et al., 2003).



In sub-Saharan Africa, in 1998, 66.7% of the surveyed women in Sierra Leone had experienced physical abuse at the hands of their partners.


The preliminary report of the special reporter on violence against women (United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), 2004) argues that women’s vulnerability to violence is determined by their sexuality, resulting for example in rape or female genital mutilation (FGM), from their relationships to some men and from membership of groups where violence against women is a means of humiliation directed at specific group (e.g. mass rape in conflict situations).


Violence against women is reinforced by doctrines of privacy and the sanctity of the family, and by legal codes which link individual, family or community honor to women’s sexuality. However, the greatest cause of violence against women is government tolerance and inaction. Its most significant consequence is fear, which inhibits women’s social and political participation (UNDP, 1997).


The 2011 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) and the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey done in Cameroon recorded that Since the age of 15, more than half of women (55%) have experienced physical violence, mainly perpetrated by their current or most recent husbands/partners, but also by their mother/father's wife or their father/mother's husband and/or their sister/brother.


Among women who have already had sexual intercourse, 20% did so for the first time against their will, especially those who had the intercourse prior to the age of 15 (30%).  Globally, 34% of women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence, 8% have experienced sexual violence and 21% have experienced both physical and sexual violence.


Among women who have already been in a union, 60% have experienced physical, sexual or emotional violence from their current or most recent husband/partner. Among women who have experienced marital violence, 43% have had injuries as a result of this violence (DHS, 2011).


Violence against women, including rape, domestic violence and harmful practices against the person, is a widespread problem in Cameroon that is inadequately addressed by its criminal and civil codes. The united states (US) Department of states country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009 indicates that Cameroonian law does not “specifically prohibit domestic violence, although assault is prohibited and is punishable by prison terms and fines”.


A country sheet on Cameroon issued by the Country of Return Information Project (CRI Project), a project funded by the European Commission to focus on reintegration possibilities for potential returnees (CRI Project, 2008), also states that, according to an interview with the Executive Secretary of Cameroon Women in Leadership and Development (CAWOLED), there is no specific legislation that prohibits "wife battering" in Cameroon (ibid).


In March 2010 correspondence with the Research Directorate, the President of the Association to Fight Violence Against Women (Association de lutte contre les violences faites aux femmes, ALVF) in Yaoundé, Cameroon, provided the following information;


“Domestic violence is not recognized as a specific crime in Cameroon and we don't have a legal definition of domestic violence. Cameroon does not have specific legislation by which domestic violence can be prosecuted”.


The criminal law is notoriously silent, and victims are left to rely on the general law of assault. According to the Executive Secretary of CAWOLED, spousal rape is generally not considered an offence under customary law; it is rather understood that a married woman consents to sexual intercourse with her husband at any time (ALVF, 2008).

Section 297 of the penal code prevents prosecution for rape when marriage has been freely consented to by the parties involved, as long as the woman assaulted is over the age of puberty at the time of the offence. (ALVF, 2009).


Recent data are not readily available, but the 2004 demographic and health survey shows that 13% of Cameroonian women had been sexually assaulted. Informal estimates project the number of rapes to be as high as 500,000 each year in Cameroon.


Domestic violence also continues to be prevalent but is not specifically criminalized under the Cameroonian Penal Code. Harmful practices against the person, including breast ironing and female genital mutilation, occur in nearly all provinces and span ethnic and religious groups.


These acts of violence against women constitute a violation of human rights. They violate a woman’s rights to freedom from discrimination, equal protection, liberty and security of person, equality before the courts and equality with men, recognition as a person, and freedom from torture. 


These acts of violence against women also conflict with Cameroon’s Constitution, which maintains that every person has a right to life, physical and moral integrity, and humane treatment in all circumstances.

The Constitution of Cameroon further provides that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure the equality of all citizens before the law. When a state fails to maintain laws that adequately protect women or ensure that its agents such as police and prosecutors implement the laws that protect victims of violence, that state has not acted with due diligence to prevent, investigate and punish violations of women's rights.


Domestic violence in Cameroon is a pervasive problem. A 2012 study found that, of 2,570 women, 995 (38.7%) reported physical violence and 381 (14.8%) reported sexual violence. These data correspond with other statistics, including a study from Douala-based “La Maison des Droits de l’Homme” that approximately 39% of Cameroonian women suffered from physical violence in 2008.


These numbers indicate that little has been done to stem the epidemic of domestic violence in Cameroon in recent years. The vast majority of victims are female: 92% of domestic violence victims in Cameroon are women.


(L’Association Camerounaise des Femmes Juristes, Luta contre les violences faites aux femmes au Cameroun: Une mobilisation Considérable, Justice & Solidarité, July 2012).



Studies of the connections between poverty, public assistance, employment, and violence against women have increased dramatically in recent years, partly spurred by the changes in welfare passed in 1996 as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA).


Despite the increased attention, this research is still in its early stages. It has involved different samples of women and used varying ways of measuring violence and its impacts. Below is a summary with a focus on the aspects that have implications for advocates and others who work with women who receive TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families).


In general, women who have experienced even recent domestic violence are interested in working and are as likely to be employed as those who have not. However, some women have partners who actively interfere with their efforts to work or attend school or training; such women have more difficulty sustaining their participation.


Similarly, women whose partners threaten to kill them, or threaten their children, are more likely than others to have reduced work involvement. The studies show that, while experience of abuse can make 'sustained employment' more difficult, the type, timing and persistence of violence may be important considerations, and there are many other factors that are influential as well.


These include education, work experience, physical and mental health problems, lack of transportation, discrimination, and race and ethnicity. Women consistently cite transportation, child care, and lack of job skills as their major obstacles to work. However, domestic violence may have more impact on women's options, and on the quality of the employment they obtain.



Social status is the level of respect, honor, assumed competence, and deference accorded to people, groups, and organizations in a society. Economic status is transmitted from parents to offspring.


The perpetuation across generations of a family's social class, or their position in the distribution of income, is generally thought to reflect the combined effects of the genetic and cultural transmission of traits, such as cognitive functioning, that contribute to economic success, as well as the inheritance of income-enhancing group memberships and property.


The superior education enjoyed by the children of higher status families contributes to this process of economic inheritance. Economic status may be measured in discrete categories; by membership in hierarchically ordered classes, by earnings (wages and salaries), income (earnings plus income from property and other sources), an occupational prestige index, or wealth (Zimmerman, 1992).



Socioeconomic status (SES) encompasses not just income but also educational attainment, financial security and subjective perceptions of social status and social class. Socioeconomic status can encompass quality of life attributes as well as the opportunities and privileges afforded to people within society.


Poverty, specifically, is not a single factor but rather is characterized by multiple physical and psychosocial stressors. Further, SES is a consistent and reliable predictor of a vast array of outcomes across the life span, including physical and psychological health.


Thus, SES is relevant to all realms of behavioral and social science, including research, practice, education and advocacy. SES affects overall human functioning, including our physical and mental health. Low SES and its correlates, such as lower educational achievement, poverty and poor health, ultimately affect our society.


Inequities in health distribution, resource distribution, and quality of life are increasing globally. Society benefits from an increased focus on the foundations of socioeconomic inequities and efforts to reduce the deep gaps in socioeconomic status in the world.


Behavioral and other social science professionals possess the tools necessary to study and identify strategies that could alleviate these disparities at both individual and societal levels. (American Psychological Association, 2012).

1.2       Problem Statement

Violence against women is one of the most pervasive of human rights violations, denying women equality, security, dignity, self-worth, and their right to enjoy fundamental freedoms in the world.

Domestic violence against women is a multifaceted problem that requires proactive mitigation strategies by the society, government, families and individuals.


According to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF, 2014), the issue of domestic violence is a major problem in the society in that, the main victims; women and children suffer from it, “in places where they should be safest: within their families at the hands of somebody close to them- somebody they should be able to trust”.


The Buea municipality, has a population of about 300,000 with a female population of 186,000 (2013 census) has extremely limited laws pertaining to women’s rights and domestic violence (World Bank, 2014).


These laws do not exactly forbid domestic violence, although assault is sometimes punishable by fines and imprisonment yet not always prohibited (U. S. Department of State, 2011). La Maison des Droits de l’Homme (The House of Human Rights) a nongovernmental organization in Cameroon, posited in its 2008 study that nearly 40% of women had suffered physical abuse from their partners (U.S. Department of State, 2011).


Another survey from the national newspaper Cameroon Tribune indicated that about 20% to 40% of women living with a male partner were victims of either physical or psychological violence (U. S. Department of State, 2011).


Additional abuses against women and girls include physical beating, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, breast ironing, widow’s rites, psychological abuse, and discrimination in education, finance, employment, and legal access.


Cameroon has adopted strategies aimed at eliminating violence against women, including ratification of international policies, penal codes, and support of local and international efforts that promote women; however, many of the laws remain in name only and are rarely enforced, given women’s lack of financial access to quality lawyers and an unsympathetic male-dominated police force.


Underreporting and culturally accepted abuses remain a challenge, too, as the country seeks to understand the extent of abuses and how to effectively fight against them. A complete paradigm shift in cultural attitude toward the female gender is required for abuses to cease (Chishugi, Franke, 2016)


In terms of actual numbers, according to a demographic and health survey conducted by the Cameroon's National Institute for Statistics (INS,2004), with technical assistance from Maryland-based ORC Macro, in 2004, 39 percent, 14 percent and 28 percent of the surveyed women who were in a relationship or who had been in a relationship had respectively experienced physical violence, sexual violence or emotional violence at the hands of their partner (INS and ORC Macro, 2005).


The country profile accompanying the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) for Cameroon, which is published by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), points out that while there is a lack of reliable statistics on the number of women affected by violence in the country, the number of media reports on such cases indicates that this phenomenon is widespread.


A poster that was presented at the International Conference on Population in 2009 states that the persistent high rate of violence against women in Cameroon can be partly explained by the fact that such violence may be ignored or even accepted by the society (Takwa, 2009).


Similarly, the shadow report submitted to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) indicates that violence against women is very prevalent but lacks recognition as a social problem since it is sometimes invariably accepted as a way of life (WIRA et al., 2007).

Majority of women going through some form of domestic violence in the Buea municipality tend to have a very low socioeconomic status. This is mostly because women experiencing violence most often than not, are prevented from working, restricted from interacting with friends, shy away from attaining their full potentials.


Sometimes, they do it intentionally but most often, they are forced to do so by their perpetrators of violence. They hardly attain high levels of education, rarely climb to the top of their employment ladder, always shy away from social activities and do not always have control of their income.


Most of these violated women spend most of their time in hospitals, legal departments or even lost in their own very little world of depression and pain, most of them feel trapped in these violent and unproductive relationships being that they cannot leave for one reason or another. All these most often prevents them from being very productive or even interactive.


In Buea, Cameroon, domestic violence against women continues to be one of the major issues being handled by the chiefs and the court of law. It is in this view that this study was carried out on the influence of domestic violence against women on their socioeconomic status.


1.3. Research Questions

The major question the study targets is:

  • What is the influence of domestic violence against women on their socioeconomic status in the Buea municipality?

Specific Research Questions

  • What is the influence of domestic violence against women on their social status in the Buea municipality?


1.3. Research Objectives

1.3.1 Main Objective of the study

  • To evaluate the influence of domestic violence against women on their socioeconomic status in the Buea Municipality.


1.3.2 Specific Objectives of the study

  • To assess the influence of domestic violence against women on their social status.
  • To analyze the influence of domestic violence against women on their economic status.

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