Intimate partner violence is generally tolerated under several circumstances among women in the Niger Delta and among women in the rest of country. Of the women in the Niger Delta, 47 percent would justify IPV in at least one of the examined reasons, and among the women in the rest of the country, 42 percent would justify IPV for at least one of the above-mentioned reasons. More women in the Niger Delta than in the rest of the country would justify IPV for all the following reasons: going out without telling him, neglecting the children, arguing with him, refusing to have sex with him, and burning food (Figure ).
Though comparable studies are lacking in other regions of conflict in Africa, the results of this study suggest that rural residence, lower household wealth, and lower status occupations (Agriculture self-employed., Agriculture employee, household & domestic, unskilled manual) of the women in the Niger Delta was associated with a higher risk of justifying IPV. Similar findings of tolerant attitudes of women with lower household wealth towards violence in non-conflict areas have also been reported in other studies [34
]. This is as expected since women with low socio-economic status are likely to experience violence due to their limited resources [35
]. In the Niger Delta, the origins of collective violence is rooted in a combination of factors like unemployment, poverty, deprived livelihood, absent social amenities, and dissatisfaction with the central government. These factors increase both the women's risk of being victimized, and their risk of justifying violence against them – point corroborated by Heise, 1998 [36
]. Possible theoretical explanations for these acceptance attitudes could include the cognitive dissonance theory, which refers to the distressing mental state in which individuals feel "they find themselves doing things that don't fit with what they know, or having opinions that do not fit with other opinions they hold [37
]. These women find themselves trapped in an environment of conflict, and as such, tend to cope with, and make sense of their experiences by accepting violence toward them in certain circumstances. This theory could also explain why some women accept or justify intimate partner violence against them. Another plausible explanation for the women's attitude of justifying IPV could be the ecological theory, which is based on multiple, interconnected elements of individuals, communities, institutions, and cultures, and suggests that an individual's behaviour is shaped not only by his/her upbringing, but by current contextual factors such as the batterer, reactions he/she receives from those around him/her, and the resources available to him/her [37
]. This two-way interplay includes the family, the neighbourhood or workplace, the broader social influence of the media, and ideologies and/or law [39
]. The attitude of the women may have therefore been shaped by current contextual factors (armed conflict in the region, low socio-economic status) around them and the resources available to them.
The association between having full or partial autonomy in household decisions regarding food to be cooked and a lower risk of justifying violence is in agreement with findings from other studies [10
]. It underscores the importance of women's empowerment through decision-making, as interventions that promote joint decision-making might influence men and women's views towards equality in marriage and encourage men to settle household disputes with negotiation, rather than violence. Deeply entrenched social beliefs regarding the subordinate roles of women constitute a strong barrier to preventing acceptance of violence against women. This warrants the implementation of positive action to change these traditional attitudes through systematic and comprehensive education and awareness programmes, including educating women and girls about their right to live free of violence. Furthermore, the causes of the conflict in the region need to be appropriately addressed. Since the militant groups in the delta are connected to the communities, unless both state and federal governments seriously address grievances of the people of the Niger delta such as, environmental degradation, wide-spread poverty, under-development, and corruption, conflict in the delta will continue, with women and children bearing the brunt.
The association between access to media and the risk of acceptance to violence is conflicting. The increased risk of acceptance of violence amongst women with access to newspaper and radio is worthy of note, and is in contrast to findings from other studies [13
]. This may be linked with the coverage of the violence itself in the more "independent" newspapers and radio stations (in contrast to the more "regulated" coverage by television stations) since media coverage of conflicts plays a large role in sensationalizing people, and thus exacerbating conflicts [40
Subsequent efforts towards peace in areas of collective violence should include working with the media on their reporting of conflicts. Access to television was associated with a lower risk of acceptance of violence. The explanation for this finding is unclear, and needs to be researched further; however, it may be linked with the more controlled coverage of the conflict in the Niger Delta by the television stations, which has been described as episodic or sporadic reporting about the conflict only when the crises are exacerbated [41
Among the women from the rest of the country, women from the Igbo and Other ethnic groups had a lower risk of justifying IPV. This may be associated with the gender-restrictiveness of the Hausa/Fulani/Kanuri ethnic groups that predisposes these women to IPV [13
]. Women in lower status occupations (Agriculture self-employed, Agriculture employee, household & domestic, unskilled manual) from the rest of the country had a 95 percent higher risk of justifying IPV compared to women with higher status occupations (Professional/Technician/Management). This is a common finding, given that woman with low socio-economic status are predisposed to experiencing violence due to their limited resources [34
]. Lower risk of justifying IPV among women with full or partial autonomy in decisions regarding own health, and visits to family or friends is generally associated with women's increased empowerment [17
]. However, higher risk of justifying IPV among women with full or partial autonomy in decisions regarding making large household purchases is conflicting, and needs to be researched further [41
]. The situation in the Niger Delta is complex, and is worsened in part by the traditional/cultural gender ideologies in Nigeria, which tend to have a strong hold on the women. Changing attitudes toward violence in the Niger Delta requires long-term commitment and strategies involving all parts of society. This would initially require the resolution of the conflict, and subsequently, stronger commitments by governments in passing and enforcing laws that ensure women's legal rights and punish abusers. Furthermore, community-based strategies can focus on empowering women, reaching out to men, and changing the beliefs and attitudes that permit abusive behaviour. Only when women are treated as equal members of society will attitudes toward violence, and violent acts against women change from being an invisible norm into a shocking aberration.