Association between adolescent marriage and marital violence among young adult women in India

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Objective: To assess whether a history of adolescent marriage (< 18 years) places women in young adulthood in India at increased risk of physical or sexual marital violence. Methods: Cross-sectional analysis was performed on data from a nationally representative household study of 124 385 Indian women aged 15-49 years collected in 2005-2006. The analyses were restricted to married women aged 20-24 years who participated in the marital violence (MV) survey module (n = 10 514). Simple regression models and models adjusted for participant demographics were constructed to estimate the odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the associations between adolescent marriage and MV. Results: Over half (58%) of the participants were married before 18 years of age; 35% of the women had experienced physical or sexual violence in their marriage; and 27% reported such abuse in the last year. Adjusted regression analyses revealed that women married as minors were significantly more likely than those married as adults to report ever experiencing MV (adjusted OR 1.77; 95% CI, 1.61-1.95) and in the last 12 months (adjusted OR 1.51; 95% CI, 1.36-1.67). Conclusions: Women who were married as adolescents remain at increased risk of MV into young adulthood.