Domestic violence, contraceptive use, and unwanted pregnancy in rural India
Stephenson,Rob; Koenig,Michael A.; Acharya,Rajib; Roy,Tarun K.
Studies in Family Planning 39(3): 177-186
Publication date: 2008
This study examines the relationship between male-to-female physical domestic violence and unwanted pregnancy among women in three economically and culturally diverse areas of India. A central methodological focus of the study is the examination of retrospective and prospective measures of pregnancy unwantedness, contrasting their usefulness for specifying levels of unwanted pregnancy and its relationship with domestic violence. Data from India's 1998-99 National Family Health Survey and a 2002-03 follow-up survey for which women in four states were reinterviewed are analyzed, and the factors associated with the intersurvey adoption of contraception and the experience of an unwanted pregnancy are examined. Women who experience physical violence from their husbands are significantly less likely to adopt contraception and more likely to experience an unwanted pregnancy. A prospectively measured indicator of unwanted pregnancy identifies a higher prevalence of unwanted pregnancies than do the traditionally employed retrospective measures and is more successful in establishing a relationship between unwanted pregnancies and domestic violence. The results demonstrate a clear relationship between a woman's experience of physical violence from her husband and her ability to achieve her fertility intentions. The need to improve the measurement of pregnancy intendedness is clear, and a move toward using prospective measures as the standard is necessary.