Violence against women migrant workers (WMWs) is an important yet largely understudied issue in Nepal. With surveys, in-depth interviews and focused group-discussions on returned women migrant workers (WMWs) and their husbands, children and parents in-law in Dhading and Rupandehi districts of Nepal, the study explores the prevalence of and contributing factors to violence against WMWs in their family. The study finds a high degree of physical and sexual violence from husbands among the WMWs. The rate of lifetime physical violence from husbands was highest among Dalit women and women above 35 years of age. The rates of both physical and sexual violence were lowest among women with secondary education or above. Compared to women’s education, husbands’ education appears to have an even a stronger role in reducing violence against women. The rates of both physical and sexual violence were lowest among the WMWs whose husbands had secondary or higher levels of education, and the rates of violence were highest among the WMWs whose husbands were illiterate. The study finds a positive relation between the number of children in the family and the likelihood of violence from husbands. Not having a son in the family did not increase the likelihood of physical violence against women from their husband. The rate of violence was much lower for women who only had girls (20 per cent) than for women who only had boys (39.3 per cent). A man’s engagement in extramarital affairs was likely to increase violence against women.

The study also finds the prevalence of social stigma relating to women’s labour migration to foreign countries as a contributing factor to violence against WMWs in their post-return phase. Analysis of survey and interview data with the husbands of WMWs reveals a strong positive relation between men’s feelings/experience of humiliation in society and their family due to their wife’s migration and their involvement in violence against their spouses. A larger number of women returnees also perceived a connection between their labour migration and violence by husband.