Education protects women from abuse

The horrible kidnapping of almost 300 Nigerian schoolgirls by the extremist group Boko Haram was made all the more horrific by the fact that the group specifically targeted girls for trying to better their lives. Boko Haram went after the girls for the same reason the Taliban went after Malala Yousafzai: extremists fear intelligent women.

“If you want to plunge a nation into backwardness, marry your daughters”, Nick Kristof wrote in a recent column.

Kristof listed some of the best-known positive externalities of having an educated female population: Fewer children and therefore less risk of a “youth surge” and, later, civil war. Not to mention a more skilled workforce and a stronger economy.

But a new report suggests that the benefit of girls’ schooling extends even further, that it is protective against domestic violence, rape and child marriage.

“No place is less safe for a woman than her own home,” says one World Bank report released this week. About 30 percent of the world’s women have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of their partners, and in 33 developing countries surveyed by the organization, nearly a third of women said they could not refuse to have sex with their partner. couple.

Percentage of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner

Education protects women from abuse original
world Bank

“Yes, it is normal for them to hit you, to yell at you. If you say [anyone], your teammates will ask you, is this the first time they beat you? Some of us are used to, just like the way we are used to eating attitude”, said a Tanzanian woman in a World Bank focus group.

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To make matters worse, one in three women said they thought wife-beating was justifiable, and women who were forgiving of domestic violence were more likely to experience it.

Change in the percentage of women who believe that a husband is justified in hitting his wife if she…

Education protects women from abuse original
world Bank

But the Bank also found that better-educated women were more likely to not being sexually or physically abused. Each additional year of schooling was associated with a 1 percent increase in their ability to refuse sex with their partner.

“The strongest correlate of a woman’s sexual autonomy in a relationship is her level of education,” the report says. “Overall, 87 percent of women with higher education say they can refuse to have sex. Women with partial or complete secondary education have an 11 and 36 percent lower risk of violence, respectively, compared to women without education.

One of the most lasting and damaging impacts of the Boko Haram kidnapping could make Nigerian girls nervous about going to class. According to to recent interviews with some of the girls who escaped, when the group arrived at the school in northern Nigeria, they were shouting: “We are Boko Haram. We will burn down your school. You won’t go to school again. You will do the Islamic school”.

Of course, it is also crucial to change social norms and laws in countries with high levels of domestic violence, and working with groups of men can also be very helpful. But given that female education seems to inoculate societies against misogyny, it is not surprising and Heartbreaking that Boko Haram is targeting classrooms.

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