Indian women with more resources than their husbands face heightened risk of violence

March 25, 2014

A new study has found that women in India who have more education than their husbands, who earn more, or who are the sole earners in their families have a higher likelihood of experiencing frequent and severe intimate partner violence (IPV) than women who are not employed or who are less educated than their spouse.

There are two existing theories that aim to predict what happens when a woman has status and resources that are equal to or greater than her husband's. One theory, called bargaining theory, posits that a woman who has more relative resources in a relationship should be at a lower risk for IPV. A man in such a relationship would worry that his wife would withhold resources if he behaved violently toward her. The other theory, known as gender deviance neutralization, suggests that a woman's superior resources would be viewed as gender deviant and a man would use to gain power or maintain control in the relationship. This study supports the latter theory.

Abigail Weitzman, a graduate student at New York University, looked at data from the female-only module of India's National Family Health Survey (NFHS) collected between 2005 and 2006. This module contains data from a nationally representative sample of aged 15 to 49 and includes nine variables pertaining to IPV. It also asks a number of questions about women's current employment, relative earnings, and access to other money. Weitzman looked only at data from and explored the occurrence, frequency, and severity of violence.

Weitzman found that compared to women with less education than their , women with more education face 1.4 times the risk of IPV, 1.54 times the risk of frequent violence, and 1.36 times the risk of severe violence. She found a similar pattern for women who were better employed than their spouse. And women who were the sole breadwinners in their family faced 2.44 times the risk of frequent violence and 1.51 times the risk of severe violence as unemployed women whose husbands were employed.

"In global development efforts, there is a large emphasis on women's employment and education. My research suggests that there can be a backlash, including violence, toward women who attain greater education or earnings than their husbands," says Weitzman. "Finding a solution will be tricky. Our response should not be to stop educating and employing women, but nor should we plow ahead without recognizing this may put them at greater risk, and making changes to help protect them."

Divorce is extremely rare in India; therefore Weitzman recommends that policies aimed at addressing IPV should focus on alternatives to divorce, such as shelters and support groups. Additionally, this research suggests that programs that aim to improve women's financial resources or employment opportunities may inadvertently increase their risk of IPV. Microfinance and vocational programs for women should consider making legal and psychological counseling available to participants.

Explore further: Study examines clinical and policy implications of intimate partner violence

More information: This article is available free of charge for a limited time at onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10 … 457.2014.00650.x/pdf

Related Stories

Study examines clinical and policy implications of intimate partner violence

February 12, 2014
(Boston) —Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious public health concern for all, however women who experience IPV are more likely to sustain injury and report adverse health consequences. An expanding body of research ...

Silent victims—an epidemic of childhood exposure

October 30, 2013
Over 15 million children are exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) each year, and the health consequences of this exposure are well-documented. The Institute of Medicine and the United States Preventive Services Task ...

Adolescent relationship violence has mental health implications for victims, perpetrators

March 5, 2014
Described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as "physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse," intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious public health issue affecting ...

Study links intimate partner violence and risk of HIV

January 22, 2014
Researchers from The Miriam Hospital and the University of Rochester have found a definitive link between violence among intimate partners and an increased risk of HIV infection. The study is online in the journal Women & ...

One in six women at fracture clinics report domestic violence

June 11, 2013
One in six women arriving at orthopedic fracture clinics have been victims of physical, emotional, or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner within the past year, and one in 50 arrive as a direct result of intimate ...

Women with mental health disability may face four-fold risk of abusive relationship

January 30, 2014
Women with a severe mental health-related disability are nearly four times more likely to have been a victim of intimate partner violence than those without a disability, according to a new study by Women's College Hospital ...

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.