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Prevalence and predictors of help-seeking for women exposed to spousal violence in India – a cross-sectional study
Authors: Leonardsson M, and San Sebastian M
Source: BMC Women's Health, 17(1):99. doi: 10.1186/s12905-017-0453-4
Topic(s): Domestic violence
Gender-based violence (GBV)
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
Country: Asia
Published: NOV 2017
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Spousal violence against women is prevalent in India (29%). Studies from various countries have shown that few women exposed to intimate partner violence or spousal violence seek help, especially in low-income countries. The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence and predictors of help-seeking among women in India who have experienced various types of spousal violence. METHODS: Cross-sectional data on 19,125 married, separated, divorced or widowed women in India who had experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of their husbands were obtained from the India National Family Health Survey III 2005-2006. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were carried out. RESULTS: Less than one fourth (23.7%) of married, separated, divorced or widowed women in India who had experienced some form of physical or sexual spousal violence had sought help, but only 1% had sought help from formal institutions. Help-seeking was most prevalent in women who had been exposed to a combination of physical, sexual and emotional abuse (48.8%) and the least prevalent in women who had experienced sexual violence only (1.5%). Experience of severe violence and violence resulting in injury were the strongest predictors of help-seeking. Having education, being Christian or an acknowledged adherent of another minority religion - mainly Buddhism and Sikhism (Islam not included), getting married after the age of 21 and living in the South region were also associated with seeking help. Women in the North and Northeast regions were less likely to seek help, as were women with children and women who thought that a husband could be justified in hitting his wife. CONCLUSIONS: Very few Indian women who experience spousal violence seek help. The characteristics of the violence are the strongest predictors of help-seeking, but sociodemographic factors are also influential. We recommend efforts to ensure educational attainment for girls, prevention of child marriages, and that police officers and health care staff should be educated about intimate partner violence and in how to respond to women who seek help. It is important to tackle norms and attitudes surrounding violence against women, as well as attitudes to women who disclose violence. KEYWORDS: Ecological model; Help-seeking; India; Predictors; Prevalence; Spousal violence