Association Between Disabilities, Educational Attainment, Literacy, and Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the Indian National Family Health Surveys

Asian J Criminol. 2023;18(1):1-20. doi: 10.1007/s11417-022-09389-0. Epub 2022 Nov 2.


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is widespread across the Global South, including India, due to cultural and patriarchal norms that encourage and facilitate such behaviors. These include age at marriage, community- and individual-level encouragement of IPV, and limited access to education across the Global South, particularly for women. Despite this, little research has sought to disentangle the role that disabilities play in affecting women's risk of IPV in India. The current study analyzes a sample of currently married women (N = 114,901) from the nationally representative 2015-2016 and 2019-2021 National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) to assess whether a relationship exists between these dimensions, while controlling for well-known IPV correlates, with physical IPV and controlling behaviors. Logistic regression analyses revealed that persons with cognitive/intellectual disabilities as well as blind respondents were more likely to experience physical IPV. Blind respondents were also more likely to experience controlling behavior. Further, findings indicate that those with no or some education were more likely to experience physical IPV relative to those with higher education. Findings from the current study demonstrate the need for IPV reduction policies to ensure that adequate accommodations are available to facilitate help-seeking behaviors among persons with disabilities. Tailored prevention policies are also needed which consider both context- and location-specific factors associated with risk.

Keywords: Cognitive/intellectual disabilities; Global South; India; Intimate partner violence; Sensory differences.