By Charmaine A. Tadalan

ONE IN FOUR WOMEN who have ever been married has experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence by their husbands and partners, according to the preliminary findings of the country’s latest demographic survey.

The results of the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed 26.4% of women aged 15-49 have experienced spousal violence. Ever-married women, according to the PSA, are women who are currently married or formerly married women (separated, divorced, or widowed) who are living with their husbands or partners.

In particular, 20.4% of the respondents had suffered from emotional violence; 13.5% from physical violence; and 5.2% from sexual violence by their current or most recent husbands or partners. Spousal violence, according to the PSA, is defined as violence “perpetrated by partners in a marital union.”

“Since spousal or intimate partner violence is the most common form of violence for women aged 15-49, the 2017 NDHS collected detailed information on the different types of violence experienced,” the PSA report read.

In the survey, currently married women were asked about violence inflicted by their current partners while those who are formerly married were asked about violence inflicted by their most recent partners.

By marital status, 53.4% of women who are divorced, separated, or widowed have reported violence from their most recent partners as against the 24.4% of women who are currently married or those living together with their partners. The PSA also noted that the percentage of women who have experienced violence in physical, sexual, and/or emotional form from their partners “declines slightly” with the women’s age.

For instance, women aged 15-24 recorded the highest percentage of spousal violence at 28.9% while those aged 40-49 have a reported figure of 25.7%.

An inverse relationship could also be drawn between wealth and spousal violence with those who have reported such cases to be as high in the lowest (31.6%) and second quintiles (31.8%) to as low as those in the highest quintile (18.3%).

Disaggregated by region, the PSA reported that “[w]omen’s experience with violence by a partner varies widely.”

“[O]nly 7% of ever-married women in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) report experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional violence by their last partner compared with 52% of ever-married women in Caraga,” the PSA said.

Nevertheless, the PSA noted that “[a]ll forms of violence generally decline with increasing household wealth.”

Other regions reporting high cases of spousal violence were the Zamboanga Peninsula and Bicol Region tied at 43.4%, followed by Eastern Visayas (43.2%), Central Visayas (38%), Ilocos Region (33.1%), and Western Visayas (30.6%).

Asked for comments on the figures, Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at the Union Bank of the Philippines, pointed to the low figures in ARMM which “may have to do with the quality of the data and how reliable was the collection.”

Guian Angelo S. Dumalagan, market economist at Land Bank of the Philippines, was of the same opinion: “I think the percentages [between Caraga and ARMM) are too far from each other, raising questions about the accuracy of the data in general.”

“There may be limitations regarding how the data is collected. If it is based on reported cases alone, then the results of the survey might be skewed downwards in some areas where women are not as vocal.” Furthermore, Mr. Dumalagan noted that the drop in violence among wealthier households is expected. “[M]oney is usually one of the major causes of quarrels between couples. Hence, an increase in wealth would mean less reason for marital disputes,” he said.

The NDHS 2017 was conducted from Aug. 14 to Oct. 27 last year and surveyed 31,000 households and 25,000 women aged 15-49. It is the eleventh of the series of the country’s demographic surveys that were undertaken since 1968.