The day is quickly approaching for me to leave to India and I still cannot fathom that soon I will be accomplishing a lifelong dream of mine. Growing up I had always heard of India and was fascinated by its spiritual history but most importantly the social climate that allowed many problematic things to exist. It was always a sharp contrast for me to think of a country rich in religion struggle with a predominant rape culture, violence against women, and more social issues that tear at the fabric of society.
My question was always “Why?” and I’m excited to be venturing into the “How?” through my research project. My research will be investigating intimate partner violence (IPV), gender beliefs and young adults men and women in India. I would like to focus on how gender beliefs maintain IPV as a societal norm and how these gender beliefs affect the worldview of young men vs. young women. I would also like to question what factors are catalysts for IPV in this context since most IPV research has been done in Western countries (Garcia-Moreno, Claudia et al. 2006.) It is agreed that IPV is not inevitable therefore finding preventative measures will begin by identifying culture specific factors that influence IPV.
The fact that IPV research is focused more in Western countries is not solely a product of demand but also convenience. I think the added obstacle will be the power structures between male and females in India will add to any resistance to answer questions openly and honestly. As of now, I will have to rely on any past research findings, census information and the accounts of the participants. I also project that since I am not Indian, and in fact a foreign student, I will first have to build a sense of trust and comfortability with the participants in order for them not to feel attacked or misunderstood.
Ultimately, my research will answer questions important in the global health context. Often a good measure of how successful a countries health system and interventions work are child mortality rates and mother mortality rates. The health and welfare of women in societies is not simply a political slogan but a vital marker for the health of the community and future generations. Intimate partner violence in turn is a marker of a social problem with health and resource consequences. In the United States women are allowed to be more vocal and have more systems in place to secure their safety and well being against IPV yet we still struggle with properly intervening or preventing these cases. It will be of interest to discover the factors that influence IPV in India, although a different culture and society entirely, the answers could perhaps tie in theories together or highlight patterns we have overlooked since current studies focus mostly on Western countries.
References: Garcia-Moreno, C., Jansen, H., Ellsberg, M., Heise, L., & Watts, C. (2006). Prevalence of intimate partner violence: findings from the WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence. The Lancet, 368(9543), 1260-1269. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-673