MEN who are committed and active members of a faith group are less likely to be violent towards their partner, new research from the charity Tearfund suggests.
The study was carried out in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which has the highest rate of sexual violence in the world.
The charity found that men who were actively engaged in a faith group, whether Christian or Muslim, were more than twice as likely to think violence towards their partner was never justified, compared with those who were not engaged. Women who were involved in their faith group were also more empowered and more confident in being able to say no to sex, the survey found.
The finding rebuts the assumption that “conservative” faith groups promote gender inequality.
The report, Does Faith Matter, published last Saturday, said: “One of the most striking factors this data shows is that for women, there is a clear and consistent association between active engagement within a faith group and both reduced experience of IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) and more ‘empowered’ attitudes around gender and rights for women.
“For men, faith engagement was also significant in terms of equitable gender attitudes. Men who were actively engaged or in leadership in faith groups were more likely to believe that God created men and women equal, much more likely to support a woman’s right to refuse sex, and more likely to share household decision-making with their partner. Being actively involved in a faith institution (both Christian and Muslim) was also associated with a much lower likelihood (reduced by half) of violence towards a partner in the last year.”
The research was carried out as part of the UK government-funded project What Works, which seeks to prevent violence against women and girls. Tearfund’s programme works with faith leaders in the DRC to change attitudes around gender violence and inequality. It is now being piloted in the neighbouring Central African Republic.
Of the 769 women and men interviewed for the study, 95 per cent were members of a faith group. High levels of IPV were reported as part of the survey: nearly 40 per cent of the women had endured violence from a partner in the past year. Non-partner violence was reported by 21 per cent of women respondents.
Download the report here.