Family violence in Addis Ababa: Challenges of reconciling culture and human rights in Ethiopia

  • H Wondimu


Family violence includes physical, psychological and sexual violations such as pinching, beating, hitting, scolding, yelling and coerced sex. Wife beating and child corporal punishment are major family/domestic violence in Ethiopia. This study focused on wife beating (battering). It has attempted to find out the main causes for the spouses\' violence, what husbands and wives do when their respective spouses are at fault. Also, attempts are made to relate the violations to the dominant culture and to specific human rights articles. It is a descriptive study that used a questionnaire. The data were collected on a sample of 56 family heads (33F, 23M) in Lideta and Shiro Meda areas of Addis Ababa. The responses to the open ended questions were content analyzed by the author and research assistant. Thematic categories were developed based on the literature reviewed and the responses of the respondents. It is found that poor living conditions, poor management of family income, jealousy/mistrust, husbands coming home drunk and poor communication (lack of understanding) are the major causes of family conflicts mentioned. The reasons listed for beating wives include: Suspicion of adultery, husbands\' drunkenness, jealousy (kinat), husbands desire to show dominance, misunderstandings and lack of discussion, and claim of culturally accepted way of disciplining. Calling on elders/relatives, discussing the problem, leaving home, and tolerating the problem are the main actions taken by the wives when their husbands are at fault. Teaching the public and couples about the habit of discussion and tolerance, providing marriage and family life education to the youth, improvement of the economic conditions of families, teaching of human rights education to the public, and taking of serious legal measures on those who are violent are steps/actions suggested by a large number of the participants.

Ethiopian Journal of the Social Sciences and Humanities Vol. 3 (2) 2005: pp. 27-50

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2520-582X
print ISSN: 1810-4487