Abstract: Characterizing Gender-Based Violence in the Context of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH): Research Evidence from India (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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109P Characterizing Gender-Based Violence in the Context of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH): Research Evidence from India

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Bonita Sharma, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Rachel Ingraham, MSW, Independent Consultant, Posner Center for International Development, CO
Eusebius Small, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX
Background and Purpose: Gender-based violence (GBV) is a human right and a global public health issue (Ellsberg et al., 2008). The United Nations defines GBV as “any act of violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty...”(UN, 2011, p.5). In many parts of the world, including India, gender norms that exclude women’s decision-making intersects with other social and environmental drivers of inequities within the patriarchal system that limits women’s power and choices, shaping patterns of violence. Access to water and sanitation makes women and girls vulnerable to various forms of violence when meeting their water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) needs, yet the right to water and sanitation is fundamental to attaining all other rights (Kayser, Rao, Jose & Raj, 2019; WHO, 2019). Few studies have examined the contextual factors that produce and reinforce WASH-related gender-based violence, particularly in India. Thus, the current study examines asset ownership, access to WASH, and education in gender violence in Indian.

Methods: Utilizing the 2015-2016 India National Family Health Survey data of women aged 15 to 49 with a sample size of (N=63,696) of individuals and households, we examined predictor variables that included homeownership, land deeds, jointly or alone as indicators for assets, WASH indicators such as the source of drinking water, time to get to a water source, and type of toilet facility. The GBV indicators included ever being forced to have unwanted sexual acts, experiencing any emotional violence, and being physically forced to perform sexual acts respondent did not want. Data analysis included descriptive, exploratory factor analysis (EFA), and structural equational modeling (SEM) using STATA 15.

Results: EFA resulted in almost all communalities higher than .388 loadings. The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin measure of sampling adequacy was .59 and Bartlett’s Test of sphericity was significant χ2 (36) =69515.163, p<.001. As predicted, the rotated matrices resulted in three factors labeled Assets, WASH, and GBV; these loadings explained 56.28% of the variance, which confirmed our measurement and the structured models. The tested model had a strong goodness-of-fit indices [RMSEA=.045; CFI=.970; TLI=.951; SRMR<.025]. The results showed that having access to WASH [B=-0. 0392096, p<0.001], assets [B=-0.0080662, p<0.05], and education [B=-0.018303, p<0.001] had significant negative association with GBV which indicated that improvement in these predictors can reduce GBV. Improvement in WASH conditions also indicated improved education levels [B=.1109613, p<.001]; hence, more needs to be understood in access to WASH’s influence in reducing GBV in India.

Conclusion: This study provides critical insight on addressing women’s rights to freedom from GBV within the context of WASH, in India We reflect on the implications of these findings for policy and propose that WASH practitioners and researchers need to go beyond the Declaration on the Right to Development and advocate for sound, accessible infrastructure to ensure and promote gender equity. In so doing, the SDGs 2030 Agenda can fulfill the goal of building equitable, inclusive, and participatory societies.