Sex Roles [sers] pp921-sers-469414 July 24, 2003 16:0 Style ﬁle version June 3rd, 2002
Sex Roles, Vol. 49, Nos. 7/8, October 2003 (
Attitudes Toward Violence Against Women:
A Cross-Nation Study
Madhabika B. Nayak,
Christina A. Byrne,
Mutsumi K. Martin,
and Anna George Abraham
An understanding of attitudes toward violence against women is vital for effective prevention
strategies. In this study we examined attitudes regarding violence against women in samples
of undergraduate women and men students from four countries: India, Japan, Kuwait, and
the United States. Attitudes toward sexual assault and spousal physical violence differed
between men and women and across the four countries. Variations in gender differences
across countries indicated that, for attitudes regarding sexual assault of women in particular,
sociocultural factors may be a stronger inﬂuence than gender. Findings suggest the importance
of examiningdifferences within the larger sociocultural context of political, historical, religious,
and economic inﬂuences on attitudes toward gender roles and violence against women.
KEY WORDS: violence; attitudes; gender; culture.
Violence against women has been well estab-
lished as a universal phenomenon. Recent reports
(Garcia-Moreno, 2000; World Health Organization,
1997) estimate that one of every three women around
the globe has experienced violence in an intimate re-
lationship at some point in her life. A signiﬁcant im-
petus for international initiatives to prevent violence
against women is provided by reports on the economic
costs of violence. The World Bank (1993) estimated
that in developing countries rape and domestic vio-
lence reduce the healthy years of life for reproductive
age women by 5%. With the recognition of violence
against women as a public health and human rights is-
sue worldwide, international conventions, such as the
Vienna Accord of 1993 and the Beijing Platform of
1995 (United Nations, 1993, 1996), urged all govern-
ments to prioritize the elimination of violence against
women. The need for studies that can help to inform
Alcohol Research Group, Berkeley, California.
Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington.
Bukkyo University, Kyoto, Japan.
Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Alcohol Re-
search Group, 2000 Hearst Avenue, Suite 300, Berkeley, California
94709; e-mail: email@example.com.
global efforts to prevent violence against women is
In order for prevention strategies to be effective,
it is essential to have systematic information on fac-
tors that cut across national boundaries as well as on
nation-speciﬁc factors that increase risk for violence
against women. Knowledge about common factors
can help in the design of prevention and interven-
tion programs for worldwide implementation. Data
on common factors in violence issues will help pre-
vent duplication of efforts to address victims’ needs.
Indeed, some reports indicate that across the world is-
sues that confront professionals working with women
who have experienced violence have signiﬁcant simi-
larities (Walker, 1999).
A large body of literature documents variations
in the incidence of violence against women, which
suggests that there are culturally unique factors. Thus
differences in culture, whether based on geographical
region, national boundaries, religion, or ethnic origin,
are expected to accompany differences in attitudes
toward violence against women. Increased migration,
globalization of economies, and the rapid cultural di-
versiﬁcation of nations have made understanding so-
ciocultural differences even more imperative. This is
2003 Plenum Publishing Corporation