Relationship Between Couple’s Acquaintance at Time of Marriage and Subsequent Female Autonomy Among Newly Married Couples in Urban Slums of Pune, India Open Access

Subramanian, Sandhya (Spring 2018)

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Background: Female autonomy is a critical component of gender equality, and the focus of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 5. To date, in India, few potential predictors of women’s autonomy have been studied beyond demographic characteristics. We aimed to examine whether acquaintance with one’s spouse at the time of marriage is associated with early marital female autonomy in Pune, India, as it could serve as a point of intervention.   Methods: This thesis is a secondary analysis of data collected for a parent study that examined correlates of intimate partner violence among 200 newly-married men and women residing in slums in Pune, India. Marital acquaintance was measured as how well the participant felt as though he or she knew his or her partner at the time of marriage. Female autonomy was measured using five dimensions of autonomy: 1) financial autonomy 2) relationship autonomy 3) sexual and reproductive autonomy 4) mobility autonomy and 5) lifestyle autonomy. Bivariate analyses and logistic regression were conducted to assess the association between the marital acquaintance and overall female autonomy, controlling for marriage type.   Results: In the bivariate analysis, marital acquaintance was positively associated with female autonomy (p <. 05). In multivariate analysis, after controlling for marital type, marital acquaintance remained associated with female autonomy (p <.05). However, examination of the large odds ratio estimate and 95% confidence interval suggested that the data suffers from quasi-complete separation, or sparse data bias.


Conclusions: Our results suggest that acquaintance with spouse at the time of marriage may be associated with increased female autonomy in early marriage; however, our results require validation on a larger scale. If such large scale studies confirm the association, future interventions that aim to increase female autonomy might consider workshops for couples that foster trust, support, and communication skills between partners before or around the time of marriage and immediately after marriage.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction. 12

Systematic Literature Review.. 15

Female Autonomy Definition in Literature. 15

Financial Autonomy. 17

Relationship Autonomy. 18

Sexual and Reproductive Autonomy. 19

Lifestyle Autonomy. 20

Mobility Autonomy. 21

Measurement/Tools for Female Autonomy. 22

Table 1. Summary Table: Measurement/Tools for Female Autonomy. 24

Known Predictors of Female Autonomy in South Asia. 24

Age, Spouse Age & Spousal Age Difference. 24

Education Level & Spouse Education Level 25

Employment & Spouse Employment 26

Religion. 26

Number of Pregnancies. 27

Caste & Spouse’s Caste. 28

Rural vs. Urban Setting. 28

Public Health Importance/Outcomes of Female Autonomy. 29

Maternal Healthcare Utilization. 29

Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 29

Child Health Outcomes. 30

Intimate Partner Violence. 31

Indian Marriage Customs. 32

Marital Acquaintance. 36

Measurement of Marital Acquaintance. 37

Known Predictors of Marital Acquaintance. 40

Rural vs. Urban Setting. 40

Spouse Choice. 40

Education Level 41

Age. 41

Religion. 41

Caste. 42

The Gap in Literature: Is Marital Acquaintance Associated with Female Autonomy?. 42

Background of Pune, India. 43

Primary Industries. 44

Age & Sex Breakdown. 44

Religious Breakdown. 45

Language Breakdown. 45

Population Growth & Slum-Dwelling Populations. 45

Methods. 46

Overview.. 46

Figure 1: Study Methods Diagram.. 47

Ethical Approvals. 47

Eligibility Criteria, Sampling, and Recruitment 47

Study Measures. 48

Measure for Predictor 48

Measures for Outcomes. 49

Measures for Covariates. 51

Statistical Analysis. 54

Results. 56

Descriptive Statistics. 56

Sample Demographics. 56

Predictor 57

Outcomes. 57

Potential Confounders. 58

Bivariate Analyses. 59

Bivariate Analysis between Marital Acquaintance and Potential Confounders. 59

Bivariate Analysis between Overall Autonomy and Potential Confounders. 59

Logistic Regression. 60

Table 2. Sample Demographics by Gender 63

Table 3. Descriptive Statistics of Marital Acquaintance by Gender 64

Table 4. Descriptive Statistics of Female Autonomy by Gender 65

Table 5.  Descriptive Statistics of Potential Confounders by Gender 66

Table 6. Bivariate Analysis of Marital Acquaintance vs. Potential Confounders. 67

Table 7. Bivariate Analysis of Overall Autonomy vs. Potential Confounders. 68

Table 8. Logistic Regression Models Examining the Association between Acquaintance at Marriage and Female Autonomy  69

Discussion. 70

Study Significance. 70

Summary of Findings. 70

Study Strengths. 71

Study Limitations. 72

Sparse Data Bias. 72

Selection Bias. 73

Social Desirability Bias. 74

Public Health Implications. 78

Conclusion. 79

Sources. 80


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