The political economy of domestic violence in a Mumbai slum: an ethnographic analysis

Ghosh, Sreeparna (2015) The political economy of domestic violence in a Mumbai slum: an ethnographic analysis. Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, 27 (2). pp. 175-198. ISSN 0260-1079

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Nationally, more than a third of women report some form of domestic violence in India. This study set in a Mumbai slum shows that structural violence contributes to domestic violence and also systematically disadvantages women by forcing them to drop out of school, reduces labour force participation and prevents women from leaving abusive marriages. We find that birth order, age at marriage and the support of the natal family, all play a critical role in shaping women’s life trajectories. Although natal families and women’s social networks under certain conditions can help mitigate violence, these are limited. Using six case studies, this study proposes a framework that encompasses multiple dimensions and forms of insecurity, categorised into material, physical, sociocultural or sexual constraints. By doing so, it delineates mechanisms by which institutional and normative contexts gender vulnerabilities. Methodologically, this article uses an ethnographic approach and, including two pairs of mothers and daughters as case studies, offers an intergenerational perspective that underscores the transmission of violent life trajectories, highlighting the limited possibilities for mitigation. Thus, programmes that aim to reduce domestic violence need to go beyond the family as a site of intervention, to account for the role that systemic violence plays in the production of domestic violence in marginal spaces, such as slums.

Item Type: Article
Authors: Ghosh, Sreeparna
Uncontrolled Keywords: Domestic violence, gender, India, slum, ethnography, structural violence
Subjects: Social sciences > Sociology & anthropology > Communities
Divisions: Azim Premji University > School of Development
Full Text Status: Restricted
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