The COVID-19 Pandemic in the Nawalparasi District of Nepal: A Mixed Methods Assessment of Increased Alcohol Use and Intimate Partner Violence

Res Sq. 2022 Jul 14; doi: 10.21203/ Preprint


Background In Nepal and across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has primed an environment for increased rates of intimate partner violence (IPV). This paper examines how the upstream factors of alcohol use and economic insecurity in the Nawalparasi district of Nepal has brought about higher rates of IPV among newly married women. Methods This study is a secondary analysis of data obtained from the Sumadhur Intervention pilot study that has been previously described and demonstrates successful implementation of group-based, household-level intervention for women's empowerment and sexual and reproductive health education (1). Our three sets of data were collected before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first set is from a longitudinal cohort of 200 newly married women who were surveyed twice a year from February 2017 through July 2020. The second data set is from a cohort of newly married women, their husbands, and their mothers-in-law (31 women, 31 husbands and 31 mothers-in-law) who participated in Sumadhur in January 2021. The third data set was obtained through in-depth interviews in July 2021 from 15 households following Sumadhur . The interviews were thematically coded, and subthemes were identified. The survey data was analyzed for change over time. Results In households in the Nawalparasi district of Nepal, between 2019 and 2020 there was an increase in alcohol consumption with reports of drinking every day increasing from 9.2% to 13.6%. In July 2020, 30% (N=31/102) of newly married women said their husbands' alcohol consumption had increased since the pandemic. In 2019, 47.06% (N=88/187) of participants reported that they had experienced any form of IPV. In July 2021, 74% (N=23/31) of women reported being physically forced to have sexual intercourse with their husband when they did not want to and in the past four months, 68% (N=21/31) reported being forced to perform sexual acts against their will. The interviews highlighted the presence of alcohol use in the community as well as increased concerns over economic insecurity. Mothers-in-law consistently described increased rates of IPV and community violence since the pandemic. Conclusions The pandemic has led to precarious economic situations that have influenced alcohol use among men, and instances of IPV among young, newly married women. We have demonstrated a need for urgent programmatic and policy responses aimed at reducing IPV, which has increased during the pandemic. Family interventions centering on women, such as Sumadhur , are critical to implement along with community-wide emergency preparedness to ensure autonomy, safety, and wellbeing now and in future times of uncertainty.

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  • Preprint