Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse in Relationships

Communication technology in the household is associated with the rejection of wife beating

Sometimes the private sector creates unintended consequences. We investigated the possibility of one with global consequences – the proliferation of information and communication technology. Using cross-sectional data collected in 20 low- and middle-income countries that participated in UNICEF’s Multiple Indicator Cluster


Surveys during 2006 through 2014, investigators assessed the association between such technologies and justifications for wife beating. The 133,843 women participants were asked whether a husband is justified in beating his wife under five circumstances: if she goes out without telling him, neglects the children, argues with him, refuses to have sex, or burns the food.


Household ownership of a radio, computer, fixed phone, or mobile phone was associated with a higher likelihood of rejecting wife-beating; the largest effect was having a computer. These findings were not related to money – independent of both the development level of the country and household wealth, the more such technologies, the more likely women were to reject justifications for wife-beating.


The research was conducted by Lauren Ferreria Cardoso, PhD student and Ortner Student Fellow, and Susan B. Sorenson, Professor and Ornter Center Director.

The paper reporting this research ­–Violence against women and household ownership of radios, computers, and phones in 20 countries – was published in the July 2017 issue of the American Journal of Public Health