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Violence against women by their husbands is a problem for women worldwide. However, the majority of women do not seek help. This article presents findings from a national survey in India on empowerment-related correlates of help-seeking behaviors for currently married women who experienced spousal violence. We examined individual- relationship- and state-level measures of empowerment on help-seeking from informal and formal sources. Findings indicate that help-seeking is largely not associated with typical measures of empowerment or socio-economic development, whereas state-level indicators of empowerment may influence help-seeking.
Although not a target of this study, we also note that injury from violence and the severity of the violence were among the strongest factors related to seeking help.
Taken together, the low prevalence of help-seeking and lack of strong individual-level correlates, apart from severe harm, suggests widespread barriers to seeking help. Interventions that affect social norms and reach women and men across social classes in society are needed in addition to any individual-level efforts to promote seeking help for spousal violence.
Spousal violence in the form of physical, sexual, and emotional violence is experienced by women in all socio-demographic and cultural groups, across the globe Montalvo-Liendo, Lacking from this literature, however, is a comprehensive assessment of the role of empowerment in help-seeking for spousal violence. In fact, the basic relationship between empowerment and help-seeking has itself received little attention.
This study begins to fill this gap. Empowerment can be examined at the individual, interpersonal, and contextual levels.
Is women's empowerment associated with help-seeking for spousal violence in india?
These studies and other comparative 20814 indicate that there is little consistency across cultures as to how aspects of empowerment are associated with violence Abramsky et al. For example, in a study of intimate seeking violence IPV in 10 wives, Hindin et al.
In Malawi, women who made decisions tly with their husbands were less likely to experience violence than women who made decisions alone. However, there was no association between decision making and bethesda violence in Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, or Zimbabwe Hindin et al. Cross-cultural differences in the relationship between violence and empowerment may stem from differences in how inequalities between men and women operate to permit such violence. Outside the household, societal norms that permit controlling behaviors by husbands facilitate the institutionalization of structural inequalities between men and women.
Such cultural beliefs about gender roles permeate other layers of social interaction Jewkes, ; Koenig et al. Individual empowerment may only be realized sex far as the prevailing social norms allow. Kishor and Subaiya developed measures purposefully for operationalizing women's empowerment; these measures are explicitly used as indicators of empowerment in the survey on which this study is based.
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This study applies these indicators as individual characteristics e. Although there are several theoretical frameworks that inform research on spousal violence and a woman's response to it, there has been little development of theory explicitly linking empowerment to help-seeking for spousal violence Pinnewala, However, researchers have examined the association of empowerment with other aspects of women's care seeking, such as maternal and child health care Ahmed et al.
Here we draw on general models of help-seeking to begin to understand the connections between empowerment and help-seeking for spousal violence. Pinnewala reviewed three theoretical models i. Pinnewala, Similarly, Liang et al. Cognitive processes include a woman's perception or identification of the abuse, coping mechanisms, and cognitively framing abuse as a problem that requires a response.
Identification that spousal violence is a problem that should be rectified als a married woman's conscious rejection of social norms that may condone it. Contextual factors are social forces and structures that influence her capacity to seek help, such as the marital relationship, her social support, social institutions, and the broader cultural views on gender norms and patriarchal social structures.
Contextual factors are a prominent feature of the ecological model of gender-based violence Heise, and frame the analysis of this study.
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For example, interpersonal empowerment, for example, as visible through a woman's ability to participate in decisions in her marital relationship or have contact with the outside community, may provide psychological or material resources for help-seeking. Contextual factors that influence a woman's empowerment, such as strong patriarchal norms, may also discourage help-seeking Pinnewala, However, research to date has not comprehensively examined the relationship between empowerment and help-seeking, including in India.
When Indian women do seek help, it is usually from informal sources, such as other family members or close friends, as women often believe violence to be a problem best resolved within the family Krishnan et al.
Social norms, stemming from cultural and religious traditions, emphasize that a woman should be submissive to her husband Ahmed-Ghosh, ; Kanagaratnam et al. Women often marry young and are expected to raise children, take care of the domestic chores, and respect their husband and his family Go et al.
Help-seeking from formal authorities is rare, and many women do not view the police or help centers as acceptable resources Chandrasekaran, It may also be difficult for women to disclose, even if resources are available. In a survey of women in Gujarat who were seeking health care at a community organization, only 8.
Few women resort to any legal action, as legal counsel often does not take them seriously Bhatia, ; Rao, The present study is situated within the Indian context to examine the relationship between measures of empowerment and help-seeking behavior of spousal violence victims.
To address the gap in the literature on the relationship between empowerment and help-seeking for violence, we use nationally representative data on married women of child-bearing age from India to examine individual- relationship- and state-level measures of empowerment on women's help-seeking for spousal violence in India.
We also analyze the interaction effect of relationship and state-level measures of empowerment on help-seeking to understand if relationship-level empowerment measures are moderated by contextual measures of empowerment. We examine separately the influence of these measures on help-seeking from informal family or friends and formal sources institutional resourcesas the literature suggests that there are qualitative differences in the characteristics and circumstances under which women seek help from formal authorities.
We build on smaller, within-state, qualitative studies of help-seeking that have provided powerful and useful insights Chibber et al.
Specifically, this article examines the following research questions:. Research Question 1: What are the independent associations of individual- relationship- and state-level empowerment measures with help-seeking for spousal violence among women in India? Research Question 2: Do state-level aspects of empowerment moderate the influence of empowerment at the spousal relationship level for help-seeking behaviors?
In summary, multiple individual and contextual factors influence help-seeking. This exploratory study examines whether empowerment will be positively associated with help-seeking. Given evidence of the role of empowerment for other aspects of women health and socio-economic outcomes, we speculate that empowerment at the individual level may promote help-seeking, but this may be moderated or dampened in social contexts where spousal violence is socially condoned.
This study uses the India NFHS-3, a nationally representative stratified household survey that uses in-person face-to-face interviews.
In sampled households, interviews are conducted with all women aged 15 to 49 who were residents or visitors who spent the preceding night in the household. The questions on domestic violence and the use of the Conflict Tactics Scales were informed by World Health Organization World Health Organization, guidelines on collection of such sensitive information and by research on valid and reliable measurement of domestic violence Hindin et al.
Violence was defined by self-reports that the woman was pushed, shook, slapped, hit with a fist or something harmful, kicked or dragged, had an object thrown at hear, or her husband attempted to strangle or burn, threatened her with a knife, gun or other weapon, or forced sex or other sexual acts.
The woman can identify as many persons contacted for help as necessary.
Help-seeking was then categorized as informal family, her husband's family, neighbors, and friends and formal police, lawyers, religious leaders, and health care professionals. Cronbach's alpha was. Given this pattern, women who sought help from both informal and formal sources 20814 coded as having sought formal help only 58 of the women sought help from formal sources only. We used a continuous wife of her spouse's educational attainment in years and a dichotomous bethesda of whether she has less education than her spouse. We included a binary indicator of early marriage before age 18as well as the age difference of the couple in years; Pandey, Dutt, and Banerjee, The woman's seeking of wife-beating tolerance toward it was measured through a question on whether a man is ever justified in beating his wife for any of seven specific reasons: if she goes out alone, neglects the kids, burns the food, argues with him, refuses sex, is unfaithful, or disrespects her in-laws.
We used a dichotomous indicator to indicate the woman's justification of wife-beating under any condition Abramsky et al. Decision making in the spousal relationship sex modeled as a count of responses to five items related to decisions in which the wife participates. These decisions included obtaining health care for herself, major household purchases, visits to her family or relatives, how to spend the money her husband earns, and using contraception Ahmed et al.
If she reported deciding alone or tly, then she participated in decision making, which was coded 1 and 0 otherwise, and these were summed.
Although some of these items may be a stronger indicator of empowerment, in the absence of an appropriate weighting seeking, all decisions had equal weight. Freedom of movement was modeled as a wife of responses to four questions on places to which the respondent could go alone, including to the bethesda, to a medical facility, out alone into the community, and 20814 seek health care for herself.
A summary score was computed so a higher score meant more freedom of movement. For controlling behaviorswe used six questions on the husband's level of trust and restrictiveness that intended to capture the extent of his spousal control. The husband's controlling behavior was modeled as a count of responses as to whether her husband becomes jealous or angry if she talks to other men, frequently accuses her of being unfaithful, does not permit her to sex her female friends, tries to limit her contacts with her family, insists on knowing where she is at all times, and does not trust her with any money.
A summary score was computed, with a higher score reflecting a more controlling husband. All spousal characteristics were reported by the woman.
India is divided into 29 states, which are the first-level administrative units and which exercise considerable autonomy. There is substantial variation among the states with respect to development and gender equality. For each state, we calculated the percentage of women in the survey age who justify wife-beating for any reason and the state-level prevalence of IPV. The GDI assesses gender disparities in development based on infant mortality, life expectancy, literacy, education, and estimated earned income per capita differences between men and women.
The GEM assesses three areas of gender inequality in the ability to participate in economic and political spheres: political participation and decision-making power, economic participation and decision-making power, and power over economic resources. The appendix provides a listing of the indicators for each dimension.
Higher GEM values reflect greater empowerment at the state level for women. We included in the model other individual and household characteristics and characteristics of the violence that were conceptually or empirically identified in the literature as associated with IPV and help-seeking for conceptual and empirical reviews, see Heise,and Pinnewala, Little is known about the relationship of these characteristics with help-seeking in India, and their relationship with IPV is not consistent.
Examining the potential mediating and moderating impacts of these factors is beyond the scope of this article, but an important area for further research. These included the following aspects of the woman's personal history: total of children, age continuousemployment any form vs.
However, older women are more likely to have children, and the presence of children may promote help-seeking Ellsberg et al.