The Uneasy Relationship of Domestic Violence With Women’s Empowerment in India

Shilpa Reddy , University of Maryland
Reeve Vanneman, University of Maryland

This paper explores how domestic violence fits into the multidimensional picture of gender inequality and women’s empowerment in India. According to conventional wisdom and a large body of scholarship, there is a strong negative correlation between domestic violence and multiple dimensions of women’s empowerment, especially female education and employment. However these associations don’t seem to be the case universally. Our preliminary analysis across states in India, using the National Family Health Survey, shows strong negative correlations with later ages of marriage, and literacy rates for both women and men. There are also somewhat weaker negative correlations with women’s access to money, women’s freedom of movement, and household decision making power. However, we found a strong counter-intuitive positive correlation with women’s labor force participation rates, and an unexpected positive correlation with child sex ratio. Our mixed findings at the state level justify a closer look at the district level.

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 Presented in Session 4. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions