Toward Freedom from Domestic Violence: The Neglected Obvious

Citation:

Agarwal, Bina, and Pradeep Panda. 2007. “Toward Freedom from Domestic Violence: The Neglected Obvious.” Journal of Human Development 8 (3): 359-88.

Authors: Bina Agarwal, Pradeep Panda

Abstract:

Freedom is a key concept in Amartya Sen’s definitions of capabilities and development. This paper focuses on a serious and neglected form of unfreedom — domestic violence — and argues that freedom from such violence must be integral to evaluating developmental progress. Conceptually, it notes that a person’s well-being can depend not only on absolute measures of capabilities and functionings but also on relative capabilities and functionings within families; and this can even lead to perverse effects. A man married to a woman better employed than himself, for instance, may be irked by her higher achievement and physically abuse her, thus reducing her well-being achievement (e.g. by undermining her health) and her well-being freedom (e.g. by reducing her work mobility or social interaction). Empirically the paper focuses especially on a hitherto unexplored factor — a woman’s property status — and demonstrates that owning a house or land significantly reduces her risk of marital violence. Employment, by contrast, unless it is regular, makes little difference. Immovable property provides a woman economic and physical security, enhances her self-esteem, and visibly signals the strength of her fall-back position and tangible exit option. It can both deter violence and provide an escape if violence occurs. Also unlike employment, property ownership is not found to be associated with perverse outcomes, in that a propertied woman married to a propertyless man is not subject to greater violence.

Keywords: domestic violence, women's property status, capabilities and functions, freedom, well-being

Topics: Development, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Rights, Property Rights, Women's Rights, Violence

Year: 2007

© 2017 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.