Maintaining respect - men, masculinities, and domestic violence against women: insights from informal sector workers in Tanzania

Seema Vyas
Publication year: 

Informal sector employment is growing in Tanzania. As men compete to earn money and increasing number of women enter into paid work to supplement household incomes, additional tensions within the family emerge including domestic violence against women. Gender theories assert employment is a means of constructing masculinity and poor/unemployed men are more likely to use violence to reassert their masculine identity. Using qualitative interview data from poor men working in the informal sector, this study provides deeper reflections on men's use of violence towards women in times of economic hardship. At the core of gender relations in Tanzania is men's ascribed status as the uncontested household head and the automatic respect conferred onto them. Men's use of violence and controlling behaviour is an instrument to maintain that respect by quelling insubordination from women who challenge their authority, and by controlling women's income earning opportunities to suppress any possibility of subversion.