Attitudes of South Asian men in the UK toward women and their understanding of and justification for domestic violence

Kaur, Harjinder (2015) Attitudes of South Asian men in the UK toward women and their understanding of and justification for domestic violence. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


To date nothing is known about the attitudes of South Asian men in the UK toward women and domestic violence. Issues related to South Asian men and communities have remained largely under the surface due to religious and cultural sensitivity. The aim of the research is to examine the attitudes of South Asian men in London and the South East of England toward women and their understanding and justification of domestic violence. More specifically, the research explores a range of cultural and religious actions and behaviours in relation to women and domestic violence that have specific reference and are pertinent to South Asian communities. This includes a focus on: educational and employment attainment; domestic labour/household duties; type of and freedom to choose clothes worn; living away from home; relationships before marriage; marriage; divorce; and domestic violence.

The research applies an intersectional gender perspective as the key analytical concept to undertake the first dedicated multi-methodological study to explore South Asian men’s attitudes across a range of cultural and religious issues. It provides a baseline for understanding South Asian men’s perspectives, enabling policy and practice to tailor interventions to better assist South Asian women and engage in prevention. The first stage of the research consisted of piloting and constructing a new survey instrument; the South Asian Attitudes Toward Women and Domestic Violence Scale (SAATWDVS). South Asian men were approached in a range of locations to obtain diversity across socio-demographics such as age, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and country of birth or migration, and asked to complete the SAATWDVS survey instrument. The sample is 190 South Asian men. The second stage comprised nine in-depth face-to-face interviews with South Asian men to explore the issues in more depth. Concepts such as masculinity, tradition, culture, religion, and honour were explored.

The findings show that whilst the majority of men held liberal attitudes, they were still setting the parameters of appropriate female behaviour. There appeared to be a difference, albeit small, between the public and private sphere. Where behaviour was deemed to be unacceptable this was often framed within concerns for the protection and well-being of women. Gender and gender relations are not static but evolving and becoming more progressive within the UK’s South Asian community. Men’s attitudes are understood as located in a complex interplay of factors: gender socialisation; religion; ethnic origin and country of birth; traditions; cultures; family/upbringing; the role of female family members; education; and interactions with female peers.

KaurHarjinder_AttitudesOfSouthAsianMenInTheUKTowardWomen.pdf - Published Version

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