Men's violence against women in rural Bangladesh: undermined or exacerbated by microcredit programmes?

Using data from a recent ethnographic study in rural Bangladesh to explore relationships between men's violence against women in the home, women's economic and social dependence on men, and microcredit programmes, this paper suggests that microcredit programmes have an varied effect on men's violence against women. They can reduce women's vulnerability to men's violence by strengthening their economic roles and making their lives more public. When women challenge gender norms, however, they sometimes provoke violence in their husbands. Male violence against women is a serious, widespread, and often ignored problem worldwide. By putting resources into women's hands, credit programmes may indirectly exacerbate such violence; but they may also provide a context for intervention.