A Feminist Study of Domestic Violence in Rural India

Niveditha Menon, Pennsylvania State University
Michael P. Johnson, Pennsylvania State University

The focus of this paper is domestic violence among women in rural India. The question asked by this study is: How do regional, family, and personal characteristics of a woman affect her likelihood of being hit by her husband? Using logistic regression on the 1999 DHS data for India, I found clear regional and religious variability in the reported rates of domestic violence. As expected, higher levels of socio-economic status and education are powerful forces that dissuade violence against women. Contrary to predicted results, however, being in a nuclear family structure, having higher decision-making powers, and labor force participation increased the risk of women being assaulted by their husbands. These surprising findings, taken together, require an elaboration of the feminist analyses of motivations of domestic violence and suggest that the relationship between power and violence is not a clear-cut one.

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Presented in Session 133: Understanding Domestic Violence in Developing Countries