The Influence of Familial Messages on Young Adult Indian women’s Perceptions of GBV

Patricia Medina, Dionne Stephens, PhD; Purnima Madhivanan, MBBS, MPH, PhD

Background: Research on gender-based violence often focuses on victimization from the husband and how it affects women but many studies lack data on the influence of the family. There is a critical need to explore perceptions of gender-based violence (GBV) in Indian youth since early marriage occurs in 45% of young, married women and may play as a risk in enhancing GBV (Raj, Saggurti, Balaiah, & Silverman, 2009). This study identified the subjective beliefs held by young adults in Mysore, India regarding familial communications about gender-based violence (GBV).

Methods: A total of 81 young adult women between the ages of 18 through 24 participated in this study. Participants were recruited from colleges and work centers. They also completed a baseline survey to assess their gender role beliefs and GBV attitudes. The constant comparative approach was used to identify the most common dating scripting, gender role and GBV beliefs based on the beliefs generated in qualitative data collection.

Results: Participants definitions and beliefs about proper and improper behavior when dating varied. Open and direct family messages were uncommon. Family messages were inferred or vague. While they disagreed with violence, women violating the traditional gender role expectation were perceived as a cause of their victimization. Comments made by friends and family examples were most influential in developing their perceptions of GBV.

Conclusion: Despite the Indian family being the core of Indian society, the conservative expectation placed on individuals has silenced conversations about GBV between parents and children. Young adults in India receive advice and influence from peers, subtle family messages or examples. Future interventions should focus on stimulating family discussions about GBV prevention.


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