Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-5-2017


Comparative Politics


Claire Haeg, Political Science


Violence against women, despite decades of activism on the subject, remains a problem for women around the world. By one measure, over 35% of women globally have experienced either physical or sexual violence. The vast majority of this abuse occurs within the home. Although development programs often focus on women’s empowerment as a way of freeing women from the cycle of domestic abuse, research on this issue has been more mixed, finding that in some cases, women’s work outside the home or higher status relative to their husband can catalyze abuse. Peru is a particularly relevant case study for this issue because of its high rates of domestic violence despite a well-established legal framework against domestic violence. In this study, I analyze individual and state-level factors that contribute to women’s likelihood of experiencing domestic violence through logistic regression using the Demographic and Health Survey as well as a case study of Peruvian laws and history. On the individual level, I find that women’s education and joint decision-making within a household act as protective factors against domestic violence, while women’s work outside the home, intergenerational exposure to violence, urban residence, and indigenous identity leaves them at an increased risk of abuse. On the state level, I find that despite Peru’s well-developed legal framework, women’s emergency centers and shelters are chronically underfunded, impeding the state’s mission to end domestic violence. Additionally, a long history of guerrilla conflict in Peru may be to blame for the country’s high levels of violence within the home. These findings suggest that the relationships between a country’s development, women’s overall levels of empowerment, and rates of domestic violence are not always as clear as many assume. This study ultimately provides a more nuanced understanding of what catalyzes domestic violence against women so that future interventions on this issue are able to address the individual, structural, and cultural dimensions of domestic violence.