January 27, 2022



Domestic violence is a form of violence suffered by a person from a biological relative, but typically it is the violence against the women. The woman suffers violence by his husband or by his relatives. It is also named as domestic abuse or family violence. Domestic violence is a relationship where one partner asserts control or power on the other. But generally, the domestic violence is suffered by the women. The abuser may use different types of abuse to assert power on the partner. The different forms are physical, emotional, mental and sexual. They can be of any age, ethnicity, income level, education.

Domestic violence in India

Domestic violence is a common concern especially in a country like India, where women has not been given the rights and importance by her husband or by his relatives. The women had always been subjected to domestic violence in one form or another. Domestic violence has been there in India from the early period. It is a form of abuse, using of slap, kick, punch, mental pressure and many other forms. According to a National Family and Health Survey in 2005, total lifetime prevalence of domestic violence was 33.5% and 8.5% for sexual violence among women aged 15–49. The 2012 National Crime Records Bureau report of India states a reported crime rate of 46 per 100,000, rape rate of 2 per 100,000, dowry homicide rate of 0.7 per 100,000 and the rate of domestic cruelty by husband or his relatives as 5.9 per 100,000. There are several domestic violence laws in India.

The earliest law was the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 which made the act of giving and receiving dowry a crime. In an effort to bolster the 1961 law, two new sections, Section 498A and Section 304B were introduced into the Indian Penal Code in 1983 and 1986. The most recent legislation is the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) 2005. The PWDVA, a civil law, includes physical, emotional, sexual, verbal, and economic abuse as domestic violence. Domestic violence is currently defined in India by the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005. According to Section 3 of the Act, “any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it:

1. harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or

2. harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or

3. has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or

4. otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.”

The National Family Health Survey of India in 2006 estimated the lifetime prevalence of sexual violence among women aged 15–49, including instances of marital rape in India. The study included in its definition of “sexual violence” all instances of a woman experiencing her husband “physically forcing her to have sexual intercourse with him even when she did not want to; and, forcing her to perform any sexual acts she did not want to”.

Forms of Domestic Violence

Physical violence

Physical injury is the most visible form of domestic violence. The scope of physical domestic/intimate partner violence includes slapping, pushing, kicking, biting, hitting, throwing objects, strangling, beating, threatening with any form of weapon, or using a weapon. Worldwide, the percentage of women who suffer serious injuries as a result of physical domestic violence tends to range from 19% – 55%. Physical injuries as a result of domestic violence against women are more obvious than psychological ones, and can be more easily discerned by health professionals as well as courts of law in the context of legal prosecution.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse has been gaining more and more recognition in recent years as an incredibly common form of domestic violence (and therefore a human rights abuse) within the private home throughout developing nations such as India. Psychological abuse can erode a woman’s sense of self-worth and can be incredibly harmful to overall mental and physical wellbeing.

Emotional/psychological abuse can include harassment; threats; verbal abuse such as name-calling, degradation and blaming; stalking; and isolation.

Sexual Assault

Domestic sexual abuse is a form of domestic violence involving sexual/reproductive coercion and marital rape. Under Indian law, marital rape is not a crime, except during the period of marital separation of the partners.

The Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) considers the forced sex in marriages as a crime only when the wife is below 15. Thus, marital rape is not a criminal offense under IPC. The marital rape victims have to take recourse to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA). The PWDVA, which came into force in 2006, outlaws marital rape. However, it offers only a civil remedy for the offence

Dowry related violence

Dowry deaths are deaths of married women who are murdered or driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by their husbands and in-laws over a dispute about their dowry, making the women’s homes the most dangerous place for them to be. Most dowry deaths occur when the young woman, unable to bear the harassment and torture, commits suicide. Most of these suicides are by hanging, poisoning or by fire. Sometimes the woman is killed by setting her on fire by her husband or in laws ; this is known as “bride burning”, and is sometimes disguised as suicide or accident. Death by burning of Indian women has been more frequently attributed to dowry conflicts. In dowry deaths, the groom’s family is the perpetrator of murder or suicide.


Furthermore, the effects of domestic violence depend upon the type of domestic violence. It could be physical, emotional, sexual and economic. First, in physical abuse the abuser will use Witnessed physical force against the victim in a way to injures or endangers his or her or causes feeling of pain. Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, punching, choking, pushing, and other types of contact that result in physical injury to the victim. Physical abuse can also include behaviors such as denying the victim of medical care when needed, depriving the victim of sleep or other functions necessary to live. Second, emotional abuse is defined as any behavior that threatens, intimidates, undermines the victim’s self-worth or self-esteem, or controls the victim’s freedom. This can include threatening the victim with injury or harm, telling the victim that they will be killed if they ever leave the relationship, and public humiliation.

Serious health problems often result from physical, emotional, and sexual forms of domestic violence. Physical health outcomes include: Injury from lacerations to fractures and internal organs injury, Unwanted Pregnancy, Gynecological problems, STDs including HIV, Miscarriage, Pelvic inflammatory disease, Chronic pelvic pain, Headaches, Permanent disabilities, Asthma, Irritable bowel syndrome, Self-injurious behaviors smoking, unprotected sex. Mental health effects can include depression, fear, anxiety, low self-esteem, sexual dysfunction, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post traumatic stress disorder. Fatal effects can include suicide, homicide, maternal mortality, or HIV/AIDS.

Negative public health consequences are also strongly associated with domestic violence. Social and economic costs have been identified as direct results of these public-health consequences, and it is argued that these justify state action to act in the interest of the public to reconcile these costs specifically including costs such as worker earnings and productivity, public healthcare, and costs associated with the criminal justice system.

The act of domestic violence towards women is a human rights violation as well as an illegal act under Indian law. It is therefore widely considered a threat to women’s agency through any lens, and there is a growing recognition in many Indian regions that the nation can reach a higher potential through obtaining greater social and economic capital than by reducing women’s participation in society. Domestic violence is one of the most significant determinants of this denial. Greater gender equality through greater women’s agency cannot be achieved if basic health needs are not being met and if cultural biases that allow for domestic violence in India persist.

Laws related to domestic violence in India:

The Indian Penal Code Amendment in 1983: A special section, numbered 498A, that officially made domestic violence a criminal offence was added to the Indian Penal Code in 1983. The section of the law specifically covers cruelty towards married women by their husbands or their husband’s families.

The 2005 Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act: It gives a specific definition of Domestic Violence actual or threats of physical, mental, emotional, sexual or verbal abuse as well as harassment regarding dowry or property. It gives a women’s right to reside in their “matrimonial household”, she cannot be evicted from her the house as she rightfully share it with her husband. Violators of this law will either be mandate to compensate the women financially, or will be served a restraining order to keep them away from the complainant.

The Indian Penal Code 1860: there are several sections mentioned in the code to protect women from violence such as Section 364 Indian Penal Code Outraging Modesty of Women, Section 304 Indian Penal Code Dowry Death, Section 313 causing miscarriage without women’s consent, etc.


Women are not the only victim of domestic violence males also suffer from it but it becomes difficult to identify that men is a victim and not an abuser. As our mind is set that it is a male dominating society and they are the abuser women are the weaker section of the society and they are the victims only.

There are lots of provisions and acts in India that are made to protect women and now many of the women take advantage of it. Men also go through mental cruelty as well as physical cruelty but either they are ashamed to share about the violence they are facing or feared that nobody will trust them and instead people are going to make fun of them. It is not easy for men to come in front and tell people about the violence they are facing because of their respective partners and if someone makes a courageous move and files a complaint against the abuser then the investigating officer either will not believe it or will neglect the situation.

India is a patriarchal society and it is a common belief that men are the abuser and they suppress the women to maintain their control over her but it is not the only truth. If we look at the opposite side of the coin then we can see that men are also the victims of violence and it is really difficult for them to come in front and tell people that they are facing such violence.

Men can be victims why it is difficult for us to accept the fact, we always talk about equality of rights but are we really equal, why we are blind when the matter comes to see that men also needs help and legal justice.

Violence becomes a common thing people who possess dominating nature just suppress the weaker partner it may be men or women. It is high time to stop gender bias and take a step to cease the violence act no matter who is the victim.

Case Laws:-


Protection of women from domestic violence act, 2005- section 2(q), 2(f) – ‘respondent’- every relative of husband cannot be made as respondent- in order to fix liability upon a respondent, he must be a person who is or has been in domestic relationship with aggrieved person.


Interim maintenance- widow daughter-in-law not entitled to and maintenance from her father-in-law.


Domestic violence is not a small problem it is a big issue to think. Monetary problems, alcoholism, illiteracy, extramarital affairs, bad childhood and dowry are the major reasons of domestic violence.

The victims most commonly face physical violence by their partners; there is an urgent need of more and more domestic violence counseling centers throughout the country.

History is evidence that no legislation has succeeded in totally eliminating crime from the globe.

Though not all people are victims to domestic violence but there are people who are suffering from violence. There are many laws to help people but it is only possible when people are aware of their rights and duties.

The legal system is lacking where it comes to protect men from domestic violence, they are the victims too, and we should look into the broader perspective and start accepting that women are no weaker and only sufferers in some cases men also face violence and they also need legal help as well as psychological help.


  • https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/domestic-violence-and-abuse.htm
  • https://family.findlaw.com/domestic-violence/what-is-domestic-violence.html
  • https://www.vidhikarya.com/legal-blog

Author Details: Shristi Roongta (Amity University, Kolkata)

The views are personal only, if any.

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