University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


Caste matters: perceived discrimination among women in rural India

UMMS Affiliation

School of Medicine; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; Department of Psychiatry; Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center; Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Health Services Administration | Inequality and Stratification | International Public Health | Women's Health


The aim of this study is to examine the relationship of caste and class with perceived discrimination among pregnant women from rural western India. A cross-sectional survey was administered to 170 pregnant women in rural Gujarat, India, who were enrolled in a longitudinal cohort study. The Everyday Discrimination Scale and the Experiences of Discrimination questionnaires were used to assess perceived discrimination and response to discrimination. Based on self-report caste, women were classified into three categories with increasing historical disadvantage: General, Other Backward Castes (OBC), and Scheduled Caste or Tribes (SC/ST). Socioeconomic class was determined using the standardized Kuppuswamy scale. Regression models for count and binomial data were used to examine association of caste and class with experience of discrimination and response to discrimination. Sixty-eight percent of women experienced discrimination. After adjusting for confounders, there was a consistent trend and association of discrimination with caste but not class. In comparison to General Caste, lower caste (OBC, SC/ST) women were more likely to (1) experience discrimination (OBC OR: 2.2, SC/ST: 4.1; p trend: 0.01); (2) have a greater perceived discrimination score (OBC IRR: 1.3, SC/ST: 1.5; p trend: 0.07); (3) accept discrimination (OBC OR: 6.4, SC/ST: 7.6; p trend: < 0.01); and (4) keep to herself about discrimination (OBC OR: 2.7, SC/ST: 3.6; p trend: 0.04). The differential experience of discrimination by lower caste pregnant women in comparison to upper caste pregnant women and their response to such experiences highlight the importance of studying discrimination to understand the root causes of existing caste-based disparities.


UMCCTS funding, Caste, India, Perceived discrimination, Rural, Social justice, Socioeconomic status

DOI of Published Version



Arch Womens Ment Health. 2017 Oct 15. doi: 10.1007/s00737-017-0790-1. [Epub ahead of print] Link to article on publisher's site


First author Jasmine A. Khubchandani is a medical student at UMass Medical School.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Archives of women's mental health

PubMed ID