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Women's responses to intimate partner violence in Rwanda: Rethinking agency in constrained social contexts.
Glob Public Health. 2016; 11(1-2):65-81.GP

Abstract

This paper explores instances of agency in women's responses to intimate partner violence (IPV) in Rwanda. The literature on women's responses to IPV conceptualises agency primarily as an individual's capacity to take action by reporting violence or leaving a relationship, obscuring other ways women may respond to violence in contexts where reporting or leaving are unlikely. We aim to replace this narrow conceptualisation of agency with a social constructivist focus on the meanings women attribute to possible IPV responses. We draw on data from a study of IPV in Rwanda, which includes semi-structured interviews with women experiencing violence and four focus group discussions with women community members (n = 39). Our findings highlight sociocultural, economic, political-legal and historical constraints that shape women's actions in this context. In relation to these constraints, women describe four possible responses to IPV: reporting the violence; seeking emotional support; 'fighting back' against violence; or remaining silent. While reporting and leaving violent relationships are identified, women also discuss the social constraints that make these actions extremely difficult. In designing effective strategies, we conclude that public health strategies need to consider women's understandings of their own actions, particularly in social contexts where certain actions may be constrained.

Authors+Show Affiliations

a Department of Social Psychology , London School of Economics and Political Science , London , UK.a Department of Social Psychology , London School of Economics and Political Science , London , UK.b Independent Researcher , Kigali , Rwanda.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

25734771

Citation

Mannell, Jenevieve, et al. "Women's Responses to Intimate Partner Violence in Rwanda: Rethinking Agency in Constrained Social Contexts." Global Public Health, vol. 11, no. 1-2, 2016, pp. 65-81.
Mannell J, Jackson S, Umutoni A. Women's responses to intimate partner violence in Rwanda: Rethinking agency in constrained social contexts. Glob Public Health. 2016;11(1-2):65-81.
Mannell, J., Jackson, S., & Umutoni, A. (2016). Women's responses to intimate partner violence in Rwanda: Rethinking agency in constrained social contexts. Global Public Health, 11(1-2), 65-81. https://doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2015.1013050
Mannell J, Jackson S, Umutoni A. Women's Responses to Intimate Partner Violence in Rwanda: Rethinking Agency in Constrained Social Contexts. Glob Public Health. 2016;11(1-2):65-81. PubMed PMID: 25734771.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Women's responses to intimate partner violence in Rwanda: Rethinking agency in constrained social contexts. AU - Mannell,Jenevieve, AU - Jackson,Sharon, AU - Umutoni,Aline, Y1 - 2015/03/03/ PY - 2015/3/4/entrez PY - 2015/3/4/pubmed PY - 2016/10/7/medline KW - Eastern Africa KW - Rwanda KW - intimate partner violence KW - violence against women KW - women's agency SP - 65 EP - 81 JF - Global public health JO - Glob Public Health VL - 11 IS - 1-2 N2 - This paper explores instances of agency in women's responses to intimate partner violence (IPV) in Rwanda. The literature on women's responses to IPV conceptualises agency primarily as an individual's capacity to take action by reporting violence or leaving a relationship, obscuring other ways women may respond to violence in contexts where reporting or leaving are unlikely. We aim to replace this narrow conceptualisation of agency with a social constructivist focus on the meanings women attribute to possible IPV responses. We draw on data from a study of IPV in Rwanda, which includes semi-structured interviews with women experiencing violence and four focus group discussions with women community members (n = 39). Our findings highlight sociocultural, economic, political-legal and historical constraints that shape women's actions in this context. In relation to these constraints, women describe four possible responses to IPV: reporting the violence; seeking emotional support; 'fighting back' against violence; or remaining silent. While reporting and leaving violent relationships are identified, women also discuss the social constraints that make these actions extremely difficult. In designing effective strategies, we conclude that public health strategies need to consider women's understandings of their own actions, particularly in social contexts where certain actions may be constrained. SN - 1744-1706 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/25734771/Women's_responses_to_intimate_partner_violence_in_Rwanda:_Rethinking_agency_in_constrained_social_contexts_ L2 - http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17441692.2015.1013050 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -