Title

Culture and Comorbidity: Intimate Partner Violence as a Common Risk Factor for Maternal Mental Illness and Reproductive Health Problems among Former Child Soldiers in Nepal

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

12-1-2016

Journal

Medical Anthropology Quarterly

Volume

30

Issue

4

DOI

10.1111/maq.12336

Keywords

intimate partner violence; mental health; reproductive health; trauma; war

Abstract

© 2016 by the American Anthropological Association Our objective was to elucidate how culture influences internal (psychological), external (social), institutional (structural), and health care (medical) processes, which, taken together, create differential risk of comorbidity across contexts. To develop a conceptual model, we conducted qualitative research with 13 female child soldiers in Nepal. Participants gave open-ended responses to intimate partner violence (IPV) vignettes (marital rape, emotional abuse, violence during pregnancy). Twelve participants (92%) endorsed personal responses (remaining silent, enduring violence, forgiving the husband). Twelve participants endorsed communication with one's husband. Only four participants (31%) sought family support, and three contacted police. Ultimately, 12 participants left the relationship, but the majority (nine) only left after the final IPV experience, which was preceded by prolonged psychological suffering and pregnancy endangerment. In conclusion, comorbidity risks are increased in cultural context that rely on individual or couples-only behavior, lack external social engagement, have weak law and justice institutions, and have limited health services.

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