Abstract: Natural Disasters and Violence Against Women:Evidence from the 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

292P Natural Disasters and Violence Against Women:Evidence from the 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Smitha Rao, MSW, MSc, Doctoral Student, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Background: Natural disasters are said to exacerbate existing socio-economic vulnerabilities of already susceptible populations like women, children, older adults, and other minorities. This study looks at data from the 2005 National Family Health Surveys of India (3), to assess the factors that predict violence against women to see if the likelihood of a woman experiencing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) goes up in face of natural disaster. According to the World Health organization, IPV can comprise of physical, sexual, and emotional violence. Using the vulnerability theory framework, this study looks at existing social vulnerabilities among women based on a range of socio-economic, cultural, and demographic factors and superimposes place as a proxy for whether they experienced a natural disaster to see if that changes the odds of experiencing IPV.

 Methods: Data pertaining to women and household from the NFHS III were combined for the study (N=124, 385). Multiple logistic regression models were used to see how the various factors influenced women's experience of domestic violence. While there were a number of theory driven factors, one of the factors was state of residence where one state experienced the tsunami of 2004 (Tamil Nadu) and one did not (Maharashtra).

Results:Initial analysis shows that the odds of experiencing IPV was 82.5% higher for a woman in Tamil Nadu compared to Maharashtra and was statistically significant, when other variables were controlled. In addition, there was a statistically significant lower odds of IPV for educated women, with the odds of IPV being 4.4% lesser for every year of added education among women, when controlling for all other variables. Partner’s consumption of alcohol was also found to be statistically significant and increased the odds of IPV by 175%, when other variables were controlled.

Conclusion: The paper suggests that a major natural disaster event like the tsunami could have had an effect in exacerbating the situation of women by increasing the odds of their experience of IPV. Existing vulnerabilities need to be taken into account when looking at differential impacts of natural disasters on vulnerable populations and this paper confirms other similar studies that look at heightened vulnerabilities that certain populations face, that emerge from existing social vulnerabilities.