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Well earning women in India at higher risk of domestic violence: Study

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Previous social norm illustrates men as providers and women as receivers. Men have been considered oftentimes the more educated one than the opposite gender.

Legendary musician Bob Dylan, however, once said that times are a-changing. 

Now, women are indeed smarter, stronger and sassier individuals, making a name for themselves outside the confinement of the domestic tube.

Unfortunately, even with high educational attainment and newfound independence, a new study says this type of women faces higher risk of experiencing domestic violence than women who have remained dependent on their husbands. 

Abigail Weitzman authored the study titled "Women's and Men's Relative Status and Intimate Partner Violence" in India, and published by the Population and Development Review, which is a quarterly journal of the nonprofit Population Council based in the US. The findings focused on Indian women.

A graduate student at the New York University, Weitzman said India is a relevant case study for two reasons.

"First, wide gaps between women's and men's status persist. Women in India are 76 percent as likely as men to enroll in college, but only 36 percent as likely to participate in the labor force and 15 percent as likely to become a manager, senior official, or legislator. When such pervasive inequalities exist, employed or financially independent women may be seen as threats to gender norms,"  Weitzman says.

"The second factor that intimate partner Violence in India makes India a strategic site for this study is that divorce is legal but exceedingly rare. Because of pervasive social pressures in support of marriage, it seems implausible that women might threaten to leave an abusive relationship even if they possess their own resources," the author elaborates.

Along with fellow researchers, Weitzman discovers an established correlation between levels of educational attainment and employment earnings and the chances of intimate partner violence.

Weitzman's study suggests that women who are as educated as their spouses have 1.11 times higher chances of any intimate partner violence. It also shows that the same women have 1.08 times higher comparative chances of experiencing frequent violence as opposed to women who are less educated than their hubbies. Equal education similarly increases the chances of women to have severe violence by 1.09 times, however showing no effect whatsoever on the chances of moderate relative to no violence.

Compared to women with inferior education levels, women with superior education levels have 1.40 times higher chances of any violence, 1.38 times higher relative chances of occasional violence, 1.54 times higher relative chances of frequent violence, 1.27 times greater relative chances of moderate violence and 1.36 times greater relative chances of severe violence.

Even the employment status of women affects their risk to violence, study says. Currently married women who have work like their husbands show 1.14 times higher risk of more frequent violence than women who are jobless and dependent on their husbands.

Study also shows that if the only spouse employed is the female respondent, she has higher chances of being abused by 45 percent, 2.44 higher relative chances of frequent violence and 1.51 times likelihood of severe violence as compared to non-employed female respondents, who have employed spouses.

The study based its findings on data collected from National Family Health Survey (NFHS) of India between years 2005 and 2006. Respondents from the data included women from 15 to 49 years old, with restrictions set on currently married women only.

There were nine NFHS questions on physical intimate partner violence, of which seven were about nonsexual forms of violence. The seven questions were "Does your husband ever slap you?," "Push you, shake you, or throw something at you?," "Kick you, drag you, or beat you up?," "Punch you with a fist or something that could hurt you?," "Twist your arm or pull your hair?," "Threaten or at- tack you with a knife, gun, or any other weapon?," "Try to choke you or burn you on purpose?" A yes answer to these questions led to another question asking the frequency of such abusive acts in the last 12 months.

"I'm sure you are familiar with the idea that violence can serve as a form of social control; for a way for people to maintain the status quo," said Weitzman.

She has also shared that there are other similar findings in Thailand and US, as well as qualitative studies in Latin America, specifically in Colombia.

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