Prevalence and socio-cultural determinants of domestic violence among married women in Thimphu, Bhutan
Introduction: Domestic violence is a public health problem all over the world, yet its prevalence is under-reported in
a pervasive “culture of silence”. Bhutan is not likely to be an exception; however, data on the prevalence, forms and
determinants of domestic violence are scant. The purpose of this study is to measure the prevalence and characterize
factors associated with domestic violence among women in Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital.
Methods: A population-based, household cross-sectional survey was conducted in January-May, 2012. A multistage sampling method was used to
obtain a representative sample of 300 married women. The chi-square test was used to identify factors associated with
increased likelihood of experiencing the four forms of domestic violence.
Results: The overall prevalence of any domestic violence was 44%. By type of violence, the most common was emotional (36%), followed by control (30%),
physical (20%) and sexual (14%). Sexual violence was reported more often by young adolescent women. Women
from urban areas reported more emotional violence compared to women from rural areas. Women agreed with many
situations in which force might be used by their husbands and with many of the traditional roles of women in society.
Nonetheless, many women objected to the use of force in many situations and rejected certain constraining roles of
Conclusions: This study supports the importance of advocacy for education and programs to prevent and
mitigate harm from domestic abuse experienced by women in Bhutan.
Keywords: Adolescent women; Advocacy; Bhutan; Domestic violence; Sexual violence.