The American newspaper the Washington Post's PostEverything Op-Ed One way to end violence against women? Married dads. (previously titled "One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married") claims that marriage plays a causative role in preventing violence against women, and their children.
This social media outpouring makes it clear that some men pose a real threat to the physical and psychic welfare of women and girls. But obscured in the public conversation about the violence against women is the fact that some other men are more likely to protect women, directly and indirectly, from the threat of male violence: married biological fathers. The bottom line is this: Married women are notably safer than their unmarried peers, and girls raised in a home with their married father are markedly less likely to be abused or assaulted than children living without their own father.
This includes domestic violence:
Women are also safer in married homes. As the figure above (derived from a recent Department of Justice study) indicates, married women are the least likely to be victimized by an intimate partner. They are also less likely to be the victims of violent crime in general. Overall, another U.S. Department of Justice study found that never-married women are nearly four times more likely to be victims of violent crime, compared to married women. The bottom line is that married women are less likely to be raped, assaulted, or robbed than their unmarried peers.
Does getting married play a causative role (and not just a correlation) against violence against women and children?
With regards to whether the op-ed is talking about mere correlation, or actual correlation.
The title implies causation. It has a question of "One way to end violence against women?", and then the answer "Married dads."
The blurb underneath talks about causation, not correlation: "The data show that #yesallwomen would be safer with fewer boyfriends around their kids."
And from the body itself:
- some other men are more likely to protect women, directly and indirectly, from the threat of male violence: married biological fathers
- But marriage also seems to cause men to behave better.
- the research tells us that marriage provides a measure of stability and commitment to the adults’ relationship
- So, women: if you’re the product of a good marriage, and feel safer as a consequence
In fairness to the article, there is some mention of factors that cause marriage causing a reduction of violence.
For women, part of the story is about what social scientists call a “selection effect,” namely, women in healthy, safe relationships are more likely to select into marriage, and women in unhealthy, unsafe relationships often lack the power to demand marriage or the desire to marry. Of course, women in high conflict marriages are more likely to select into divorce.
However, just because it mentions correlation in some parts doesn't mean that it isn't implying causation in the rest of the Op-Ed.
In addition, would it make sense to write an entire Op-Ed that is purely about a non-causative correlation?