Women-centered Rituals and Levels of Domestic Violence

A Cross-Cultural Examination of Ritual as a Signaling and Solidarity-Building Strategy

Published in: Journal for the Study of Religion and Culture, Volume 14, No. 1 (2020). doi: 10.1558/jsrnc.38921

Posted on RAND.org on August 11, 2020

by Kate J. Stockly, Stephanie Arel, Megan K. DeFranza, Damian J. Ruck, Luke J. Matthews

Read More

Access further information on this document at Journal for the Study of Religion and Culture

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Prior research indicates that ritual can be a source of social solidarity by signaling trustworthiness and group commitment. A separate line of research expects domestic violence against women to be more common in societies with post-marital residence at the husband's birthplace (i.e. patrilocality). Thus, we hypothesized that when wives are able to construct strong bonds with the female members of their communities through solidarity-building rituals, they gain social support capable of inhibiting violence, leading to lower overall levels of domestic violence—especially in patrilocal societies. Results indicated that certain types of women-centered rituals were associated with lower levels of sexual and domestic violence; however, we found inconsistent effects according to patrilocal residence. Women-centered rituals were not found to be associated with beliefs about the husband's prerogative to punish and dominate his spouse, and patrilocality did not contribute to the effects we found.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.