“In old times, we used to be happy with whatever was our fate…”: coping strategies of Indian women experiencing violence

Niveditha Menon, Pennsylvania State University

Most stories of domestic violence in India usually contain one of these two themes: (1) a husband beats his wife and she is a victim at his mercy, and (2) a husband beats his wife, but she triumphs over him. While the above themes are based on the reality of violence in India, they do not capture the impact of socio-economic influences on women’s actions in response to violence. Thus, to fully understand the phenomenon of domestic violence, I examine it through the prism of culture. I employ a combination of primary and secondary data for these analyses. The secondary data comes from the 1999 Demographic Health Survey of India. The primary data comes from semi-structured interviews that I conducted with 80 women in India. This unique dataset makes me to make a case for contributions that distinctions in coping strategies can make to understanding women’s lives in India.

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Presented in Session 76: Religion, culture and health