A systematic review was conducted to gauge the available literature and to analyze the inferences made by the studies. The purpose of the study was to summarize and synthesize the observed outcomes of studies conducted in South Asia on female labor force participation and intimate partner violence.
Methods: A systematic review was conducted across seven databases. Studies that were conducted in the South Asian nations of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and Afghanistan were included. Studies were included if they were quantitative in nature and were published in English and in a peer-reviewed journal after 2010. The author conducted the title, abstract screening as well as reviewed the full – text articles.
Results: 23 studies were included in the review. Labor force participation of women was found to be a protective factor against IPV in six studies, it was a risk factor in 10 studies, and a possible risk factor in four studies depending on the context. No association was found between female labor force participation and IPV in three studies. The major risk factors for working South Asian women were earning more than the spouse, unstable employment, working for unrelated employers, unemployed spouse, poor economic status, combination of women’s employment and spouses’ unemployment, earning low income and holding inequalitarian views. Protective factors for women in labor force were women’s joint control over husband’s income and financial inclusion, house ownership by women, stable employment status of husband, working in middle level positions such as clerical jobs and having high autonomy.
Conclusions and Implications: Despite the limited number of studies, the review highlights some important reasons that increases the likelihood of IPV among working women in South Asia. Social work practitioners should be aware of prevalent norms and practices to assess the nature of risk and protective factors to help guide the selection of interventions. Future studies should focus on longitudinal research that can track changes in marital relationships between the spouses as a result of economic activity. Future studies on intimate partner violence and female labor force participation should include men’s perspective so that there is a deeper understanding of how and why violence appears in the relationship.