Journal Article

Gender-based violence in rural Uttar Pradesh, India: Prevalence and association with reproductive health behaviors

This study explores the prevalence of different forms of domestic violence and their impact on women’s reproductive health behavior in rural Uttar Pradesh (UP), India. Data were collected as a part of a large household survey carried out in 2009–2010. A multistage stratified systematic sampling design was used. A total of 4,223 married women aged 15 to 49 years and 2,274 husbands of these women were interviewed. Data were analyzed using bivariate and multivariate analyses. More than one third of married women in rural UP had experienced one or more forms of violence, such as verbal abuse, physical manhandling, and sexual abuse by their spouse. Nearly 47% of the women had experienced some form of violence during their last pregnancy. Significant associations were found between violence and incorrect reproductive health behaviors, pregnancy complications, poor birth preparedness, poor likelihood of institutional delivery, limited postnatal care, and limited spousal communication for family planning. After controlling for socio-economic variables in multivariate analysis, only pregnancy complications (odds ratio [OR] = 1.62, 95% confidence interval [CI] = [1.40, 1.85]) and lack of delivery preparedness (OR = 0.79, 95% CI = [0.68, 0.93]) were found to be significantly associated with violence. Husband’s attitude and reporting of violence by their wives in different situations were not significantly associated. This study provides evidence of the association of violence on the reproductive health behavior of married women in rural India. The results argue for frontline health workers to identify and counsel pregnant women experiencing violence during antenatal check-up to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality.