Intimate partner violence (IPV), a form of domestic or gender-based violence (GBV), includes acts of physical aggression, psychological abuse, forced intercourse, and other forms of sexual coercion, and various controlling behaviors. Although IPV is a widespread and deeply rooted problem, it receives limited public attention in Nepal mainly because domestic violence (DV) is seen here as a private family affair, and intervention by outsiders is disapproved. Few studies have been done on this field but do not provide sufficient information. The main objective of the study was to therefore characterise the present state of physical, sexual, and psychological violence and identify their demographic, socio-economic, and individual/personal determinants. The study was carried out on behalf of Social Inclusion Research Center (SIRC), Pokhara from September 2011 to March 2012.

360 women of reproductive age (15-49), chosen by using multistage sampling were interviewed by same sex interviewers. The interview schedule was prepared as recommended by the World Health Organization. Responses were coded and entered into SPSS software. Univariate analysis was done to describe sample characteristics and incidence of IPV. In addition, bivariate analysis (Chi Square Test) was performed to assess whether demographic, socio-economic, and individual factors are associated with physical, sexual, and psychological violence. Furthermore, in-depth interview was conducted with 18 women to acquire qualitative data.

Of the total women (N=360), 43.9% physically, 51.7% sexually and 61.7% were psychologically abused by their partners/husbands.  At least three in four women had received at least one type of violence in their lifetime. Of demographic/household factors, age, number of children, and place of residence were significantly associated with at least one type of IPV. Women falling in the age range of 25-34 and women having two or less children were more likely to be sexually abused.  Of socio-economic variables, caste/ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, and autonomy level determined the incidence of IPV. Particularly, women from low economic status and Dalit community were more likely to be victims of physical violence. Almost equal numbers of women with low and high educational status faced IPV. Moreover, high autonomy was also associated with sexual and psychological violence. High significant association was observed between individual/personal factors and IPV. The women whose partners’/husbands’ occupation was driver/contractor were more likely to be physically, sexually, and psychologically abused.  Similarly, those women whose partners use alcohol, build relationship with other women, and have aggressive nature were also at high risk of physical, sexual, and psychological assaults.

A high proportion of women were therefore physically, sexually, and psychologically abused by their partners/husbands. Women of age 24-34, those with few children, or from Dalit communities and low socio-economic status were more vulnerable. Use of alcohol, extramarital relationship, and aggressive nature of husband contributed significantly to the incidence of IPV. Individual/personal factors had stronger effect on IPV compared to demographic/household factors and socio-economic factors.