Do Domestic Violence Laws Protect Women From Domestic Violence? Evidence From Rwanda
This paper provides causal evidence that domestic violence laws protect women in violent marriages. In 2008, Rwanda became the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to criminalize all forms of domestic violence, and allow women to divorce their husbands unilaterally if their husbands are violent towards them. Theory suggests that the law protects women in abusive marriages via two possible channels. First, it enables women to divorce men unable to curb their violent behavior (divorce effect). Second, for couples who remain married, the law deters men’s violence (deterrent effect). To study the impact of the law on women in violent marriages, I exploit the geographical variation in the intensity of The Rwandan Genocide (1994). The context provides variation in where violent marriages are more likely to be located before the law’s adoption. I first show that after the law, divorce rates increase more in the formerly genocide-intense areas, where women are more likely to be in violent marriages. This is consistent with the divorce effect. Then, I show that after the law, sexual domestic violence rates increase less in the formerly genocide-intense areas. I provide support that this is not only due to the dissolution of violent marriages but also to the deterrent effect of the law.
All rights reserved by the author. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information about permissions.
Georgetown University Initiative on Innovation, Development and Evaluation
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Gender, Violence and Health Care: Implications for Research, Policy and Practice Review of Masculinities, Violence and Culture, by S.E. Hatty; Women, Violence and Male Power, Edited by M. Hester, L. Kelly, and J. Radford; Women, Violence And Strategies for Action. Feminist Research, Policy and Practice, Edited by J. Radford, M. Friedberg, and L. Harne; Sourcebook on Violence Against Women, Edited by D.M.Renzetti, J.L. Edleson, and R. Kennedy Bergen; Domestic Violence and Health Care. What Every Professional Needs to Know, by S.L. Schornstein; Domestic Violence. Women's Way Out, by M. Shrader and M. Sagot McKie, Linda (2003-01)