Countering Violence Against Women by Encouraging Disclosure: A Mass Media Experiment in Rural Uganda

Donald P. Green, Anna M. Wilke, Jasper Cooper

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Violence against women (VAW) is widespread in East Africa, with almost half of married women experiencing physical abuse. Those seeking to address this issue confront two challenges: some forms of domestic violence are widely condoned and it is the norm for witnesses to not report incidents. Building on a growing literature showing that education-entertainment can change norms and behaviors, we present experimental evidence from a media campaign attended by more than 10,000 Ugandans in 112 rural villages. In randomly assigned villages, video dramatizations discouraged VAW and encouraged reporting. Results from interviews conducted several months after the intervention show no change in attitudes condoning VAW yet a substantial increase in willingness to report to authorities, especially among women, and a decline in the share of women who experienced violence. The theoretical implication is that interventions that affect disclosure norms may reduce socially harmful behavior even if they do not reduce its acceptability.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)2283-2320
    Number of pages38
    JournalComparative Political Studies
    Issue number14
    StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


    • African politics
    • experimental research

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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