Author : NISHA SHARMA (Law College Dehradun)


            “Gender-based violence is violence involving men and women, in which the female is usually the victim, and which is derived from unequal power relationships between men and women. Violence is directed specifically against a woman because she is a woman, or affects women disproportionately. It includes, but is not limited to physical, sexual, psychological harm (including intimidation, suffering, coercion and I or deprivation of liberty within the family, or within the general community).”[1]

Domestic violence against women is the worst attitude towards women in India. It does not mean discriminate anyone on the basis of caste, religion, sex, but it happens to the people who are married, living together or dating each other. Domestic violence in other words can also be domestic abuse, spousal abuse, violence between the intimate partners. Family basically means love, affection, respect and warmth in the family members but in reality what Indian women face is infanticide of girls, sati practice, torture on widow, battering, dowry death, assault and violence and many more. Domestic violence against women is the top gender related crime in the country and women is subjected to domestic violence every 4.4 minutes, according to the data released by the National Crime Record Bureau for 2018.


     ‘Women are the only exploited group in history to have been idealized into powerlessness’.

                                                                                                                                         -Karl Marx

During Vedic period there was no occurrence of domestic violence against women. However, they were given freedom like there was no custom of purdah, to choose their groom and enjoyed equality as they learn in Gurukuls with men as well as wife were treated as queens in the house. In general monopoly was in practice and polygamy as well as dowry was only confined in ruling families. The widows were given the right to remarry. The wife was the root of Dharma and no men were allowed to perform any religious duty without his wife. The women were given ownership right on their property which was considered as ‘Stridhan’.

However, slowly and gradually the status of women in the society gets worse. As in the Post Vedic period various restrictions were put on the rights and privileges of women by ‘Manu’. According to Manu Smriti “there is a vital structural difference between a man and woman; and a woman can not possess an independent status.”  During this period women lost their individuality as her identity was merged in the personality of her husband. During the Medieval period the situation of women was further degraded in the society as the social practices like Sati Partha, child marriage, female infanticide and dowry death were uncontrolled. Further, the right to education was fetch from them. In this period due to Muslim invasion in India the condition of women become worse as they support the Purdah system and it was spread in whole society.

During British period the society began to change due to education western impact on the social- cultural life of India. The social reformers started taking steps to improve the condition of women in the society by making schools for them, freedom movements for them. Further many laws like Sati Partha abolition Act 1829, Hindu widow remarriage Act, Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929 were established to abolish these social evils on the women.


According to the “The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005”, there are four type of domestic violence:

  1. Physical abuse

Physical abuse is the act which is done intentionally by using physical force to cause bodily injury, harm, disability, biting, and use of a weapon, danger to life or limb. There various other form of abuse in this category likes female infanticide, female foeticide, neglect of women health problem, burdening of women with work like labour.

  • Verbal and Emotional abuse

Verbal abuse is the form of abuse which is caused by using language or making a negative statement to the victim orally. It includes name calling, criticizing, insulting which result in mental pain, blaming.

Emotional abuse is also known as mental or psychological abuse and it includes, humiliating the victim privately or publicly, isolating the victim from friends and family, blackmailing, denying access to the money, curtailment of right to self-expression.

  • Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is that abuse in which force or threat is use to obtain participation in unwanted sexual activities, or having the sexual activity with the person who is unable to understand the nature of the act or unable to decline participation or abusive sexual contact.

  • Economic abuse

Economic abuse is the form of abuse in which one partner has complete control over economic resources. It includes forcing the victim to beg for the money, limiting the amount of resources, preventing the victim from obtaining education, and finding employment.


In our society one of the famous beliefs is that women are physically and emotionally weaker than the men and due to this they can do anything with them. However there are various causes of domestic violence on women and few of them are under-

The root causes of domestic violence are dowry by husband or relatives or in-laws are arguing with husband, neglecting children, refusing to have sex, not cooking properly, desire for male child and many more. Sometimes the behaviour of the husband is dominant, irrational, unjust, jealous, possessive, etc. which result in high risk wife battering.

If the wife is working, she is earning more than her husband, coming late from work, neglecting children or in- laws, becoming more social. Then in these situations the husband generally feels jealous and tries to dominate his wife which results in domestic violence.

If the wife is not working then they are dependent on their husband economically, emotionally and socially. However, it has been seen that domestic violence is not only done by husbands but also by in-laws and especially by Mother-in-law in Indian society because of over possessiveness and jealousy.

The other causes are extra marital affairs of husband, lack of education, patriarchal structure of society, poverty, drunkenness, addiction to drugs, impotency, etc. lead to domestic violence upon women.

In India the women consider marriage as sacrament and do not like any outside interference due to which they accept these humiliations on themselves. They do not complain because of social consequences, lack of self-confidence.


In Indian society women believe that they should come up with these issues in front of people to save their marriage because if they do so they will not be accepted by society and due to this they keep tolerating this violence on themselves. However, the effect of this trauma varies from person to person due to their stress, age, and frequency of their violence. Firstly by these ill- treatments on women, she suffers from many health problems. Physical injuries include broken bones, bruises, internal bleeding, sexual dysfunction, fertility issues are some of the effects of domestic violence incidents. It can also long term diseases like heart diseases, arthritis, hypertension, chronic pain. Sexual violence cause psychological disturbance among women like anxiety, fear, depression, suicidal attempts, low self-esteem, nightmares and many more. One of the effect of domestic violence against women is it effect on her children because they have greater attachment towards mother. The child who is exposed to domestic violence during his upbringing will suffer in his growth and may face psychological problems. Further effect of domestic violence is that it prevents their participation inside the house as well as in society because it lowers her self-esteem and decision making power.


However it can be said that the time after Vedic period has sown the seeds of domestic violence on women which emerged in the name of social custom. In the name of social customs many restrictions were put on the women. Till today we are not free from those restrictions just for the sake of society and so called prevailing customs of our society. The things which can improve the mindset of people are the improvement of education. The women should be given motivation and provided with a platform to bring out the pain and sufferings without the fear. The four walls of a house need to be analyzing carefully. Domestic violence has a deeper and wider impact on the one who is suffering from it than could have been described from this article. 

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