Ways That Hegemonic Masculinity Has Increased Violence Against Women in Bangladesh

Published: 2019-09-17 07:00:00
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Hegemonic masculinity has existed in the society for a long time and to some extent has resulted in violence against women in some societies. Hegemonic masculinity is the total dominance of the male gender over the female one (Naved, Huque, Farah & Shuvra, 2011). Some cultures view women as being more inferior with men. One such culture is the Bangladesh culture. In Bangladesh, there is an assumption that women have no rights, and some even consider them as property that men should own (Naved et al., 2011). As a result of the low status in society, women end up experiencing violence in one way or another. The violence comes in various forms such as physical, emotional, mental, sexual abuse and intimidation (Anwary, 2015). Such treatment to women resulted in some key questions that brought interest to discuss this topic. The questions are:

What causes hegemonic masculinity in Bangladesh?

What causes violence against women in Bangladesh?

What increases the chances of such violence?

Women have a very low status in Bangladesh. In fact, some people view wife battering as a normal thing to do to women. Besides that, they treat women as inferior and believe that they have no rights to things such as wealth, ownership, education or even power in a corporate position (Eswaran & Malhotra, 2011). Many articles (e.g. Eswaran & Malhotra; Anwary, 2015; Schuler, Yount & Lenzi, 2012) show that there have been uncountable occurrences of violence of women which have led to multiple injuries, face destruction and even to the extent of loss of life. Some research (e.g. Linos, Khawaja & Al-Nsour, 2010) show justification of wife beating. The reason for this is the specific beliefs and ideologies of a certain culture. For instance, Naved and Persson (2010) noted that wrangles often come up in homes where there was no full payment of dowry. However, this does not imply that violence against women does not exist in individuals who have paid dowry in full; rather, there may be reduced violence. Some of the factors that may cause violence against women include weakened female autonomy, justification of wife beating and divorce.

Weakened Female Autonomy

The weakened female autonomy may be one cause of violence against women. In fact, most feminists argue that domestic violence is as a result of the weak autonomy of women (McMillan, 2007). However, some researchers believe that an increase in women autonomy may result in an increase in hegemonic masculinity (Eswaran & Malhotra, 2011; Afroza, 2015). In turn, this leads to increased domestic violence. One of the reasons for this is that men may believe that no matter what status a woman has, she cannot have a stronger autonomy. Another reason is that men may feel insecure when a woman becomes self-determined or self-governed (Eswaran & Malhotra, 2011). Among the things that can make a woman independent having a job and depending on her earnings. In such cases, if the woman is working far away from home, some husbands may have increased suspicion to her activities and her whereabouts. The outcome of this is that the husbands may become jealous of their spouse which may later result in domestic violence (Anwary, 2015).

In developing countries, there is rare enforcement of the legal law against domestic violence in cases where the community approves it (Merry, 2003). Developed countries are no better in this scenario. Though they actively enforce laws against domestic violence, law enforcers experience a great challenge when the victims drop the charges (Merry, 2003). One of the main reasons why victims resort to dropping the charges is the threat that they may receive from their husbands. When the husbands realize that their wives have outside support, they may increase battering which may eventually cause dropping of the charges. Tauchen, Long and White (1991) argue that spousal violence is a way of gratification for the perpetrator and also a way to control the behavior of the victim. Also, men may view that they have greater control of their wives when they have an increase in their income. They view themselves as having more power to take advantage of their victims (Tauchen et al., 1991).

Men use domestic violence to degrade the autonomy of women while at the same time satisfying their desires. When women have a higher autonomy, men may resort to using domestic violence to weaken the autonomy of women (Eswaran & Malhotra, 2011). Also, men will have an increased hegemonic masculinity which in turn increases violence against women ensuring that they have no power at all. Therefore, it is clear that in some cases, when there is a rise in the autonomy of women, there may be increased violence against them (Eswaran & Malhotra, 2011). Bangladesh may avoid such cases of violence against women by constant counseling of men and the society in general. As a result, this may bring change to their behaviors and corrupt activities.

Justification of Violence Against Women

In some cultures, (e.g. Bangladesh culture) there is justification of wife beating (Schuler et al., 2012). They believe that the man has a right to beat his wife as a sign of authority and power. Often, the woman has to take all the blame regardless of the fact that she adhered to all prevailing societal norms. As a result of such a trend, Schuler, Yount and Lenzi (2012), decided to take a qualitative analysis following WHO guidelines by using cognitive interviews to show justification of wife beating in Bangladesh culture.

In the research, most of the interviewed men expressed approval of the community of violence against women (Schuler et al., 2012). Such a finding indicates the support the community has on the views of men as opposed to womens views. Also, the interviews showed that both men and women justified wife beating in certain scenarios (Schuler et al., 2012). An example of such a scenario is where a woman goes to visit friends or relatives without the husbands permission. Such shows that the community gives men the power to govern community norms which have made some women feel that community norms always work against them. The community had made women accept such cases of male control and domination by making them view the decisions men make as always right and worth it (Schuler et al., 2012). Though some women may view the decisions they made as right and following the community norms, they may end up experiencing violence from men due to the society justifying such acts. The community norms in Bangladesh to some extent foster violence against women. They give men the right to batter their wives whenever they deem necessary.


Dowry may be crucial to certain cultures as it shows the patriarchal attitude of the marital family. In Bangladesh, dowry payment is made by the girls family to the mans family (Naved & Persson, 2010) . Every family asks for a specific dowry that they believe their son is worth, and they expect that the girls family would meet it in full. However, some families do not see dowry as important despite it being crucial to others. Dowry has an effect on the bargaining power of women (Naved & Persson, 2010). When the family pays dowry, then the bargaining power of women is increased. She can make certain household decisions as well as have an increase in her leisure time. The greater the dowry, the lower the chance of marriage dissolution. Brides who meet the dowry obligatory in totality have reduced cases of domestic violence ( Naved & Persson, 2010).

In cases where the girls family never met the full dowry requirements, there are higher chances of cases of domestic violence. After marriage, the wife may experience all sorts of violence which may even lead to death. Some families take this opportunity to exploit and extract wealth from the brides family. When they resort to violence in one way or another and the woman leaves, they can then marry another woman leading to increasing wealth of the grooms family. Such violence comes as a result of the greed of the persons involved. The inadequacy in dowry payment increases violence against women as it enhances male dominance and decrease in the rights of women (Naved & Persson, 2010). The men take the women as junior partners having no say in anything. Despite reduced domestic violence in cases of full dowry payment, there may be instances when such a scenario can lead to domestic violence. One such scenario is when the women feel they are more entitled to everything as a result of meeting the dowry requirements. Such can provoke violent responses from the men. The perpetrators believe in gender inequality and have a traditional and negative mindset against their wives (Naved & Persson, 2010). They usually consider women as commodities that have a price tag.


Divorce usually occurs when there is disagreement between the two involved parties. Divorce occurs when the couple is unable to resolve their differences and live in peace as before. Various factors can lead to divorce such as violence, infidelity, impotence and incapability of providing for ones family (Hossen, 2011). Divorce can result to violence against women in various ways. For instance, when divorce proceedings are going on, the husband may be violent t the wife to show his superiority. He may do this to show that he owns everything including the wife (Schuler et al., 2012). Also, men may resort to violence during divorce proceedings so that women may decide to drop the charges and stop the divorce (Naved et al., 2011). After multiple cases of abuse by the perpetrator, the woman may finally decide to end the divorce clearly showing the patriarchy system of men.

In cases where the divorce is successful, men may still think that they have control over their ex-wives. Some may resort to abusing the ex-wives so that they can have a sense of control (Naved et al., 2011). Actions like this show how some men dehumanize women and treat them as objects of no value and importance. In some cases, the community supports such actions viewing the woman as the one who was the problem. They accept such acts of violence without asking any questions. When the community accepts such violence, it encourages the acts to take place repeatedly (Schuler et al., 2012). Any time that women challenge masculinity, men will gladly settle to violence for the pleasure of themselves and the society as a whole.

Papers Reflecting Distinct Methodological Orientations to the Issue

Various literature that inform the topic have distinct methodological orientation to the issue. The purpose of this section is to identify and understand the methodological orientation that researchers use to obtain information on the issue. The section will look at six key papers that best reflect the distinct methodological orientations that the researchers used to answer their respective research questions. The research methods are quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods. The six papers in consideration are:

Justification of wife-beating in rural Bangladesh: A qualitative analysis of gender differences in response to survey questions by Sidney Ruth, Kathryn Yount, and Rachel Lenzi.

Dowry and spousal violence against women in Bangladesh by Ruchira Tabassum and Lars Persson.

Construction of Hegemonic Masculinity: Violence against wives in Bangladesh by Afroza Anwary.

Violence against women: Nature, causes and dimensions in contemporary Bangladesh by Kazi Hossain and Saidur Suman.

Measuring gender-based violence: Results of the violence against women survey in Bangladesh by Alamgir Hossen

Mens attitudes and practices regarding gende...


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