Intimate partner violence against women in Southern Punjab, Pakistan: A phenomenological study

Tehmina Sattar, Saeed Ahmad, Muhammad Asim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) refers to behavior by an intimate partner that can cause physical, sexual, or psychological harm; is a common global public health issue requiring immediate attention. IPV is the most common form of violence in rural areas of Punjab, Pakistan. Methods: This qualitative phenomenological study collected 46 in-depth interviews from married women who experienced IPV in the rural areas of South Punjab. A semi-structured interview guide was used for data collection. These women were selected through a snowball sampling technique from October 2018 to March 2019. Researchers accessed the study setting with the help of gatekeepers (Lady Health Workers and Village Heads). The interviews were audio-recorded in the local language (Saraiki) and were translated into English. The data were analyzed using the thematic inductive analysis technique. Results: The study has presented multifaceted factors of IPV by using the socio-ecological framework in rural areas of South Punjab, Pakistan. The current study introduced culturally contextualized terminologies of "protection," "physical submissiveness," "mental delicacy," and "social security". For married women, culturally embedded terms became the primary cause of IPV. In addition, the study also highlighted some of the cultural terminologies (such as run-mureed, watta-satta, beghairat, izzat, etc.) that are ubiquitous in the local context that sometimes intensifies IPV in the family and community sphere. Furthermore, the study discussed how gender-based inequalities trigger a status quo that ultimately creates power discrimination between spouses, which perpetuates violence in the domestic context. Conclusions: Gender-prejudiced roles and expectations imposed by orthodoxy, misinterpretations of Islamic teachings, and dominant patriarchy can be contested through awareness campaigns among the public, and gender sensitization drives among public institutions of police and judiciary. Education and employment-based can lead to women's empowerment and help to challenge the orthodox anti-feminist societal norms and the role of kinship-based networks in the family and community sphere.

Original languageEnglish
Article number505
JournalBMC Women's Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Domestic violence
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Pakistan
  • Rural sphere
  • Socio-cultural dynamics
  • South Punjab


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