Journal of Biosocial Science

Research Article

SON PREFERENCE AND INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE VICTIMIZATION IN INDIA: EXAMINING THE ROLE OF ACTUAL AND DESIRED FAMILY COMPOSITION

SHAGUN SABARWALa1, MARIE C. McCORMICKa1, S. V. SUBRAMANIANa1 and JAY G. SILVERMANa1

a1 Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Boston, MA, USA

Summary

Son preference has been considered as a determinant of women's risk of intimate partner violence (IPV) experience in India, although quantitative evidence from large nationally representative studies testing this relationship is limited. This study examines the association between husband's son preference, sex composition of children and risk of physical and sexual IPV victimization among wives. Information was collected for 26,284 couples in the nationally representative 2005–2006 National Family Health Survey of India. The exposures were husband's son preference measured as husband's desire for one or more sons greater than the number of daughters and sex composition of the household: only sons, only daughters and mixed. Outcome included past year physical and/or sexual IPV. The results showed that husband's reported son preference (RR: 1.05; 95% CI: 0.98–1.13) and sex composition of children were not associated with risk for IPV victimization in the models adjusted for socio-demographic factors. The findings from this first population-based study of socio-cultural norms around son preference and married Indian women's risk for IPV victimization indicate that cultural preference for sons does not influence women's risk for IPV victimization.

(Online publication July 15 2011)