Abstract: Natural Disasters and Intimate Partner Violence: Before and after the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

468P Natural Disasters and Intimate Partner Violence: Before and after the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004

Saturday, January 18, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Smitha Rao, MSc, Doctoral Student, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
Background: Elevated levels of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is one of the many gendered impacts of natural disasters, owing to systemic inequalities as well as loss of economic and social structures of support in the event of a disaster. This paper examines the prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in four southern states of India to examine trends 6 years before, immediately after, and a decade after the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 hit southern states of the Indian subcontinent, to see if the disaster had immediate and long-term associations with the incidence of IPV. Using a vulnerability theory framework, this study looks at intersectional vulnerabilities among women based on socio-economic, cultural, and demographic factors and superimposes state as a proxy for whether they experienced the tsunami or not.

Methods: Data from three waves of National Family Health Surveys of India were analyzed. Logistic regression analyses were performed to determine association between experience of IPV in previous 12 months and state (proxy for experience of disaster) and other covariates (demographic, socio-cultural, behavioral) across the three points in time. Additionally, to test vulnerability theory, IPV was regressed on socio- economic and demographic predictors for each of the four states at all three time points to determine their association with IPV.

Results: Results of the logistic regression analyses show that in 2005, compared to the state of Karnataka the odds of experiencing IPV was about 98% higher in TN (p<0.001) and 41% higher in Kerala (p<0.01) both of which were heavily impacted by the disaster. A decade after the natural disaster, the odds of experiencing IPV by women in TN were two times higher than women in Karnataka which did not see direct impacts of the tsunami. For the entire analytic sample, belonging to minority religions and castes was associated with higher odds of IPV in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami. Belonging to certain historically disadvantaged caste groups was predictive of higher odds of women experiencing IPV in the immediate aftermath of the disaster in two states that were impacted by the tsunami and in AP which was also somewhat impacted in the disaster. In the decade after the disaster, caste and religious group are not significantly associated with IPV across the four southern states.

Conclusion: A major natural disaster event like the tsunami could have had an effect in exacerbating the situation of some groups of women by increasing risk of experiencing IPV. The data point to ways in which socio-economic and demographic vulnerabilities factor into an association with IPV in the aftermath of a disaster. In the immediate aftermath, the states that were heavily impacted by the disaster have positive associations between IPV and membership to minority caste and religious groups and other demographic vulnerabilities. The study concludes that effective disaster response strategies seldom work without tackling long-standing inequities within communities.