Law Insider India

Legal News, Current Trends and Legal Insight | Supreme Court of India and High Courts

Drinking and Domestic Violence in India

13 min read


By Aarushi Singh


In ancient India, women enjoyed a significant role not only at home but in the society as well. Many Vedic hymns are attributed to the women sages. The women was the apostle of the Matrri-Shakti.

Kings and priests always held and propagated that the prosperity depends upon the respect that a household shows towards the women and the kingdom would be visited by inauspicious events in case the woman was harassed by the subject. Female goddess are still worshipped in India and still the crime against women is increasing day-by-day.

Patriarchy is not bad until it is not hampering other genders of the society, well now, it is hampering. It has already given birth too many crimes against other genders of the society. Domestic violence is one such offense. Domestic violence in India is not new, women goes through a lot if they are born in India from birth to death nearly.

They are facing glass ceiling in work places even if they are highly educated than a man, they do not have the same respect. They face Dowry deaths even when there are laws against dowry.

They are victim to mostly all the crimes which are prevented by the government by enacting laws on them, still. They face Domestic violence is one of such crimes which major women population faces.

Domestic violence is violence which a woman suffers in her own home also known as ‘safe house’, in most of the domestic violence cases women are tortured and beaten up by their own husband and in-laws.

Most of the recorded cases of domestic violence are for demands for dowry, many cases have reported death as a result of excessive dowry demands and torture, some are suicides others are murders.

Domestic violence is a global issue reaching across national boundaries as well as socio-economic, cultural, racial and class distinctions. This problem is not only widely dispersed geographically, but its incidence is also extensive, making it a typical and accepted behavior.[1]

Domestic violence is wide spread, deeply ingrained and has serious impacts on women’s health and well-being. Its continued existence is morally indefensible. Its cost to individuals, to health systems and to society is enormous. Yet no other major problem of public health has been so widely ignored and so little understood.[2]

Statistical Data Related to Domestic Violence in India

One in every three women experiences physical and sexual violence worldwide.[3] Worldwide, the percentage of women who suffer serious injuries as a result of physical domestic violence tends to range from 19% – 55%.[4]

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.[5]

In India as per National Family Health Survey IV conducted in 2015-2016, 31.1% of married women aged between 15-49 years experienced spousal violence at least once in their lives and 27.3% women were married before the age of 18 years. They have made an exclusive category of the same.

A 2014 study in The Lancet reports that although the reported sexual violence rate in India is among the lowest in the world, the large population of India means that the violence affects 27.5 million women over their lifetimes.[6]

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.[7]

These reported rates are significantly smaller than the reported intimate partner domestic violence rates in many countries, such as the United States (590 per 100,000) and reported homicide (6.2 per 100,000 globally), crime and rape incidence rates per 100,000 women for most nations tracked by the United Nations.[8]

Bihar was found to be the most violent, with the abuse rate against married women being as high as 59%. Strangely, 63% of these incidents were reported from urban families rather than the state’s most backward villages.

It was followed by Madhya Pradesh (45.8%), Rajasthan (46.3%), Manipur (43.9%), Uttar Pradesh (42.4%), Tamil Nadu (41.9%) and West Bengal (40.3%)[9]

Recently India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) have states that in 2000, approximately 125 women used to face domestic violence every 24 hours, in 2006 this figure increased to 160 and is increasing since then.[10]

A recent United Nation Population Fund report also revealed that around two-thirds of married women in India were victims of domestic violence.

Violence in India kills and disables as many women between the ages of 15 and 44 years as cancer and its toll on women’s health surpasses that of traffic accidents and malaria combined.[11]

Factors that Perpetuate Domestic Violence

Cultural Factors:

  • India follows a Gender-specific socialization where the ‘man-power’ is stronger as compared to ‘woman-power’.
  • There are a lot of expectations from women in India, like they should not go out and study, they should limit themselves till the kitchens of their homes etc. There are gender specific roles in the society where anything which is not done as per the norms, the society name those people rebel. Similarly, expectations of roles within relationships.
  • Society believes in superiority of males, which means even those females have equal rights on paper, the society is as biased as it was before.
  • We follow certain principles and values which gives more value to men, in decisions-making and in other major tasks as well.
  • Males have major rights in the property as well, it is just after the amendments women have equal rights but still there are cases where fathers transfers all their property to their sons before dying and daughters get nothing.
  • The families are controlled by male members of the family, in Hindu Joint Family also known as Karta.
  • Customs of marriage includes dowry/ bride price. There are laws which expressly prohibits this practice but still there are cases which are visible with naked eyes of such instances and they are very common.
  • Acceptability of violence as a means to resolve conflicts.

Political Factors:

  • There are less women politicians in India then men, the biasness is clear because the government had to modify the laws to give reservation for women in the parliament.
  • Domestic violence is not taken seriously even if the cases are reported, they are not filed.
  • The departments are corrupt.
  • The major problem due to which state cannot intervene is that such circumstances are considered to be a family’s private and personal matter and interference might be seen as infringement of right to privacy.
  • Intervention might provoke religious organizations to protest in favor of religious laws conflicting with the central laws.
  • There are not sufficient organizations in the country which helps a woman in need, the force which is required to tackle the issue is comparatively less.
  • There is limited participation of women in the political organizations. There are instances in rural areas where in the elections the representatives are female but the actually their husbands handle all the official works and they themselves merely sign all the documents.

Economic Factors:

  • Mostly women in India are economically weak and are depending on men of their families.
  • All the cash and credits of the family are handled by the men of the family because they are supposed to be the earning members of the family.
  • The laws are discriminatory regarding inheritance, property rights, use of communal lands etc. In Muslim Laws the shares which women get after partition is very less as compared to the shares of the men. In Hindu laws as well the shares are divided partially among the relations as well as the genders.
  • Due to not being able to do anything professionally in life, women are depending upon the maintenance provided by the men after divorce or widowhood as per laws.
  • Even if a female succeeds in life, they are given limited access to formal and informal sectors, there are instances of sexual abuse or harassment reports in the workplace and parliament has enacted exclusive laws for harassment at the workplace.
  • Women have limited access to education and training due to which they are not well aware of their rights as well.

Legal Factors:

  • Legal status of women is lesser either by written law and/or by practice.
  • Only major laws which we have now-a-days are regarding divorce, maintenance, child custody and inheritance.
  • The definition of rape and sexual/ domestic abuse do not cover all the broad aspects of the situations which prevails in the society.
  • Literacy rate of women is comparatively less which results in an automatic decrease in the legal literacy rate as well.
  • Cases of custodial rape and abuse have been reported by certain women and the reported number is very less as compared to the actual number. Police and judiciary both major sectors which protects citizen of a nation are treating women and girls insensitively.

Laws in India against domestic Violence

There are several laws in India which protects women from the domestic violence. Such as Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 which prohibited the religious practice of Dowry and made it illegal in the country. Anyone who is making demands of dowry and anyone who is giving dowry are made entitled to punishments.

From the reference of Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, two major amendments were enacted in the Indian Penal Code under Section 498A and Section 304B in 1983 and 1986 respectively.

The most recent Act which deals with Domestic Violence in India is the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA), 2005. This Act is a civil law, the ambit of the crimes includes any physical, emotional, sexual, verbal and economic abuse as domestic violence.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 says that any act, conduct, omission or commission that harms or injures or has the potential to harm or injure will be considered domestic violence by the law. Even a single act of omission or commission may constitute domestic violence – in other words, women do not have to suffer a prolonged period of abuse before taking recourse to law.[12]

The law covers children also.[13] Domestic violence is perpetrated by, and on, both men and women. However, most commonly, the victims are women, especially in our country. Even in the United States, it has been reported that 85% of all violent crime experienced by women are cases of intimate partner violence, compared to 3% of violent crimes experienced by men.[14]

Thus, domestic violence in Indian context mostly refers to domestic violence against women.

The Act deals with duties of the police officials, judiciary and other officers in case of domestic violence. The Act provides shelter homes and medical facilities to such women.

The Act defines the procedures of the court as well as responsibility of the court and police officials. Majorly the definition of Domestic violence is provided under Section 3 which is as follows:

Section 3 of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005:

Definition of domestic violence.-For the purposes of this 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.

Explanation I.-For the purposes of this section,-

  1. “physical abuse” means any act or conduct which is of such a nature as to cause bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb, or health or impair the health or development of the aggrieved person and includes assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force;
  2. “sexual abuse” includes any conduct of a sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of woman;
  3. “verbal and emotional abuse” includes-
  4. insults, ridicule, humiliation, name calling and insults or ridicule especially with regard to not having a child or a male child; and
  5. Repeated threats to cause physical pain to any person in whom the aggrieved person is interested.
  6. “economic abuse” includes-
  7. deprivation of all or any economic or financial resources to which the aggrieved person is entitled under any law or custom whether payable under an order of a court or otherwise or which the aggrieved person requires out of necessity including, but not limited to, household necessities for the aggrieved person and her children, if any, stridhan, property, jointly or separately owned by the aggrieved person, payment of rental related to the shared household and maintenance;
  8. disposal of household effects, any alienation of assets whether movable or immovable, valuables, shares, securities, bonds and the like or other property in which the aggrieved person has an interest or is entitled to use by virtue of the domestic relationship or which may be reasonably required by the aggrieved person or her children or her stridhan or any other property jointly or separately held by the aggrieved person; and
  9. Prohibition or restriction to continued access to resources or facilities which the aggrieved person is entitled to use or enjoy by virtue of the domestic relationship including access to the shared household.

Explanation II.-For the purpose of determining whether any act, omission, commission or conduct of the respondent constitutes “domestic violence” under this section, the overall facts and circumstances of the case shall be taken into consideration.

Health Consequences

Women who faces domestic violence which is inclusive of physical, sexual and emotional violence suffers serious short and long- term physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems.

Not only women but children who resides under the circumstances of domestic violence also faces challenges in life and their mind-set is also affected by such circumstances. Domestic violence can have fatal outcomes like:

  • Homicide and suicide: Many women tend to end their lives when the torture and violence becomes a daily activity at home.
  • Leads to injuries: Around 42% women who experiences injuries as a consequence of domestic violence at home.
  • Sexual violence leads to unintended pregnancies, induced abortions, gynecological problems and sexually transmitted infections like HIV. In a WHO report, 2013 it was found that a women who has been physically or sexually abused were 1.5 times more likely to have a sexually transmitted infections. They are also twice likely to have an abortion.
  • Sexual violence also increases the chances of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-matured child delivery and low birth weight babies. Same WHO report have showed that women who experienced sexual violence were 16% more likely to suffer a miscarriage and 41% more likely to have a pre-matured delivery.
  • Domestic violence can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress and other anxiety disorders, sleep difficulties, eating disorders and suicide attempts. WHO report found that women who experience domestic violence are twice as likely to have depression and problem drinking.
  • Health issues may include headaches, back pain, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal disorders, limited mobility and poor overall health.

Impact on Children:

Children who are born in families where there is domestic violence are more likely to suffer a range of behavioral and emotional disturbances which can also be associated with perpetrating or experiencing violence later in life and also likely to have deviant behavior.

Social and economic costs:

The social and economic costs of intimate partner and sexual violence are enormous and have ripple effects throughout society. Women may suffer isolation, inability to work, loss of wages, lack of participation in regular activities and limited ability to care for themselves and their children.

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).


Domestic violence can break a women mentally and physically which may result in hampering her confidence and grace. Patriarchy and dowry customs have made it impossible for certain women to live in this cruel world. Statistics as mentioned are horrifying and immensely sad.

Even psychology is unable to justify the reasons of domestic violence, the mind-set of these people who feel powerful via beating a woman for nothing. Relationships which are supposed to be taken care of life-long can actually torture a woman to death. It is extremely sad that in some cases woman find dying easier than living in such conditions.

There are instances where relative themselves burn the woman to death, kill her, murder her. Domestic violence has a great impact on a women’s mind and her body as well as her soul. Such environment is not child friendly as well. Nation like ours have economic instability as well and domestic violence can play a major role in loss of economic wealth as well.

Customs are not evil until they start hampering the very basic human rights, until they are not forcing someone to end their lives. Customs are not evil until they are in compliance with fundamental rights, human rights and other central laws.

It is a shame that we have to enforce reservation to protect women’s right to have equal respect in India. It is a shame that we need women protection laws because the mentality of our society is such and it is shameful that women need men to protect them and they are considered weak.

The varying causes which can spark the violence within the four walls of homes need to be analyzed carefully and a wise study of the factors causing the violence may prevent a family to suffer from the menace of domestic violence. The domestic violence may have a wider and deeper impact in life of the victims.

A proper societal-legal environment has to be built to make the houses safe and secure for the woman. India cannot prosper by keeping half of its population under duress.

  1. Domestic Violence in India, Available at
  2. WHO. Multi country study on Women’s health and domestic violence against women. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2007.
  3. World Health Organization Report, 2017.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Women empowerment in India, by National Family and Health Survey, 2005.
  6. Sexual Violence and Rape in India, The Lancet
  7. Crimes in India, National Crime Records Bureau, 2012.
  8. Global Study on Homicide 2013, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
  9. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Govt of India; Fact Sheet: National Family Health Survey NFHS-III 2005-06.
  10. Rising Domestic Violence in India, Available at”
  11. Indian Women victims of domestic Violence available at
  12. Section 3, Protection of Women and Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
  13. Statistics of domestic violence, available at
  14. Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001″ Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2003, available at