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  • 2023SarmaPhD

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    Embargo ends: 8/03/28

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Towards an explanation of marital violence against women: A case study of Assam, India

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2023
Number of pages313
Awarding Institution
  • May-Chahal, Professor Corinne, Supervisor, External person
  • Sayer (Emeritus), Professor Andrew, Supervisor, External person
Award date8/03/2023
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This study examines the roles of structural factors and women’s agency in marital violence and the interconnections between them. It is set within the context of Assam (and the Northeast region of India) being relatively better off than ‘mainland India’ considering the overall status and visibility of women, and the near absence of certain regressive practices such as dowry or female foeticide. By making the structural factors that support and sustain marital violence more explicit, the research seeks to understand how women who face marital violence deal with it, and to analyse and emphasize how such violences occur and are maintained or resisted. It is informed by the Critical Grounded Theory methodology that explicitly emphasises data-led research. In tune with the broader aim and specific objectives that the study set out to address, a qualitative methodology has been chosen as the primary methodology and photographs have been used sparingly as an illustrative tool. Findings from the study have contributed to four key areas. Firstly, primarily through the capabilities approach, it examines the typology of marital violence and underlines the factors that are conducive for it to occur. Secondly, the manner in which re-victimisation of women facing marital violence is occurring through and within the civil and criminal justice system is assessed. Thirdly, it examines the existing structural context that highlights the changes occurring at a broader economic, political, and social level, and which aided in locating the phenomenon of marital violence within the backdrop of a ‘transitioning society’. Lastly, conditioned by material and cultural constraints-enablers, it explains how agency is manifest in marital violence specifically through the concepts of habitus and reflexivity.