Abstract

Household water management is often women's responsibility, as related to the gendered nature of household roles. Ethnographic data suggest that household water insecurity could increase women's exposure to emotional and physical forms of intimate partner violence (IPV), as punishments for failures to complete socially expected household tasks that rely on water (like cooking and cleaning) and the generally elevated emotional state of household members dealing with resource scarcity. Here, we test the associations between sub-optimal household water access and women's exposure to IPV, using the nationally-representative data from Nepal Demographic and Health Survey, 2016. Drawing upon the intra-household bargaining model as the theoretical framework, we run instrumental variable probit regression, to test the association between household water access and prevalence of IPV against women. After controlling for other known covariates of IPV such as women's empowerment and education, the findings substantiate that worse household water access consistently elevates women's exposures to all forms of IPV. This suggests that improvements in household water access may have additional ramifications for reducing women's risk of IPV, beyond currently recognized socioeconomic benefits. While both household water access and IPV have known health consequences, linking them provides another pathway through which water could affect women's health.

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