205179 Correlates of Wife-Beating Acceptance among Ever-Married Women in India

Monday, November 9, 2009: 1:06 PM

Shilpa N. Patel, MPH , Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, GA
Frances McCarty, PhD , Institute of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Carol E. Golin, MD, MPH , Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services and Research, Chapel Hill, NC
Puja Seth, PhD , Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Michelle Hynes, MPH , Department of Beahvioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Julia Painter, PhD, MPH , Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Camille Sutton-Brown, MEd , Department of Educational Policy Studies, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Background: Constrained gender roles and social norms in India promote inequality in marital relationships, placing women at greater risk for intimate partner violence (IPV). While the relationship between husbands' controlling behaviors and IPV has been documented previously in India, less is known regarding the relationship between women's attitudes about wife-beating and factors such as exposure to IPV, husbands' controlling behaviors, and socioeconomic characteristics. In this study we examined the correlates of wife-beating attitudes among ever-married women in India.

Methods: We randomly selected a 10% sample (7,660 out of 76,600) of adult, married women who completed an IPV module from the 2005-06 Indian National Family Health Survey. Items included: women's acceptance of wife-beating (i.e. believing that being beaten by their husband would be justified in at least one of five circumstances), urban vs. rural residency, literacy level, women's perceptions of husbands' controlling behaviors (main decision-maker regarding contraception use, insistence on knowing wife's whereabouts, limiting wife's contact with family), exposure to physical violence (ever experienced at least one of four acts of physical abuse by husband), sexual violence (ever experienced at least one of two acts of sexual violence by husband), and whether respondent witnessed father committing IPV against mother. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess correlates associated with acceptance of wife-beating.

Results: The mean age was 31; 43% of ever-married women accepted wife-beating. Controlling for age, women who were less literate (OR=1.4, p= <.001), from urban settings (OR=1.7, p= <.001), had husbands who insisted on knowing their whereabouts (OR=1.4, p=.001), and had experienced physical violence (OR= 1.6, p= <.001) were more likely to accept wife-beating. Other items were not significantly associated with acceptance of wife beating.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that women's acceptance of wife beating in India is associated with socioeconomic characteristics, such as low literacy and urban residency, exposure to physical violence, and perceived controlling behaviors of husbands. A woman's acceptance of wife beating is likely an indication of her acceptance of her lower status. Improving the status of women and changing acceptance of IPV may require a multi-pronged approach, such as improving literacy among women and addressing husbands' controlling behaviors.

Learning Objectives:
Identify factors associated with attitudes on wife-beating among ever-married women in India Describe the potential implications of wife-beating acceptance on women's health status in India

Keywords: Domestic Violence, India

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been working on women's health issues for 10 years. I am currently a PhD student who is working alongside researchers who are dedicated to women's health issues at the international level.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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