Data are derived from household surveys in which women (and men, where applicable) are asked whether they think that a husband (or partner) is justified in hitting or beating his wife (or partner) under certain circumstances. Questions are addressed to all women/men aged 15–49 years, regardless of their marital status and experience of violence. The standard indicator refers to the percentage of women aged 15–49 years who think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife in at least one of the following circumstances: (1) she goes out without telling him, (2) she neglects the children, (3) she argues with him, (4) she refuses sex with him, (5) she burns the food. Some countries have adapted the standard questionnaire to their social contexts by including different circumstances, such as if the woman spends too much money, if she disobeys, if she is unfaithful, if she insults him, if she neglects household chores, if she disrespects her in-laws, and if she speaks about the need to protect herself against HIV/AIDS.
Supportive attitudes should not necessarily be interpreted as a measure of approval of wife-beating, nor should such attitudes imply that a woman or girl will inevitably become a victim of wife-beating, but should be seen rather as an indication of the social acceptance of such practices when women and girls have a lower status in society and certain expected gender roles are not fulfilled.