Domestic Violence is seen to be a major contributor to the physical as well as mental ill-health of the victim, and it is prevalent to some degree in every society of the world, the data shows.

Domestic Violence is seen to be a major contributor to the physical as well as mental ill-health of the victim, and it is prevalent to some degree, in every society of the world, the data shows. However, the statistics over the prevalence or number of cases reported for domestic violence is far less than the actual numbers, which do not even see the light of justice due to societal pressure and particularly to say because of the ineffective justice administration in this regard. That is why the present article seeks to analyze the difference between the statistics and the real picture of domestic violence against women in our country, and the reason behind so.

I. Introduction

Domestic Violence, (also referred to as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, or intimate partner violence) often refers to violence of any type including physical, mental, sexual, and financial, by a family member or by one’s spouse. The definition of domestic violence also includes the violence between concomitant and unmarried intimate partners.[1] Domestic Violence is seen to be a major contributor to the physical as well as mental ill-health of the victim, and it is prevalent to some degree, in every society of the world, the data shows.[2]

Women are tended to be the major victims of domestic violence; however, there has been a rise in the number of cases in which men claim to be victimized by women.[3]

As per studies done, it is shown that majorly those male and female adolescents having psychiatric disorders were at more risk of being involved in an abusive adult relationship.[4] It is imperative to note here that as per statistics every three out of five married women of the reproductive age groups see wife-beating by their husbands as justified in certain situations.[5]

Besides, Clinical studies and general population surveys have also indicated the association of heavy drinking with violent behaviours toward their spouses in general and violence toward an intimate partner in particular.[6] Between 2019 and 2020, Kochi reported 352 domestic violence cases[7], and one of the most affected ones during the lockdown period was undoubtedly women. The report suggests that when men started spending more time in their respective houses, the violence against women also increased.

And the major reason behind the non-reporting of domestic abuse cases before the law is that it occurs at home, which is apparently considered the safest place for all. There are various reasons like jealousy, psychological disorder, self-esteem, old traditional beliefs, and so on, which give rise to the crime of domestic abuse. Not to mention, these kinds of violence is not limited to just physical abuse and include four other aspects: Mental abuse/Emotional abuse, Sexual Abuse, and Economic/Financial abuse.

II. Types of domestic violence

Physical Abuse

Physical Abuse refers to the act or conducts of the perpetrator which of such a nature as likely to cause bodily harm, pain, or danger to life, limb or health or impairs the health or development of the aggrieved person. It includes acts of assault, criminal intimidation, and criminal force.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse refers to mental violence in the mind of the aggrieved. It is emotional torture on the person, which often a time results in suicide by the victim. Emotional abuse is said to be the prominent cause where the victim commits suicide because of the extent of emotional torture on her rise up to the brim.

These kinds of abuses can come in the form of attacking the confidence, self-esteem, and character of the person, causing public insult, ignorance and isolation, and also an indifferent attitude of the family members. All this will come under the definition of cruelty and harassment. In such cases, the victim usually becomes so introverted to share a stage in her life when she fails to share her problem with anyone and thinks suicide is the best option to get rid of such abuse.

Sexual Abuse

The third form of domestic abuse comes in the form of sexual abuse or marital rape. The problem with the current legislation and Indian scenario is that when we hear the word ‘rape’ we never think to count in the relationship between a husband and wife, only because it is a personal matter of theirs or in the so-called sacred institution of marriage, but why so? This is a legitimate kind of abuse we can’t ignore but the law has.

As per the definition of rape given in Section 357 of the Indian Penal Code, a man is said not to commit rape for his sexual acts with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age.

There are more victims of sexual abuse, but only because sexual abuse doesn’t come under the purview of the law. The cases reported are none or a few.

Economical Abuse

The fourth form of abuse is economic or financial abuse. It is actually not a form of abuse but a type of legacy which is continued for centuries and still continues. It comes in the most common practice of dowry demand which has resulted in a number of deaths of women. This is quite prevalent in India, where the bride is considered as the ATM card for the groom or his family whenever they need the money; they can swipe the card with the password ‘violence’.

Considering the pre-existing laws' impediment in securing evidence to prove dowry-related deaths, the legislature thought it wise to insert a provision relating to the presumption of dowry death on proof of certain essentials. It is in this background the presumptive section 113B in the Evidence Act has been added. The law demands proof that the woman concerned must have been ‘soon before her death’ subjected to cruelty or harassment for, or in connection with, the demand for dowry.[8]

III. Relevant Case Laws

In the recent 2019 case of Ajay Kumar v. Lata alias Sharuti[9], Justice DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta have ruled that in accordance with the proviso to the section 2(q) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, both, an aggrieved wife or a female living in a relationship in the nature of a marriage may file a complaint against a relative of the husband or the male partner, as the case may be. This is indeed a welcome step from the Judiciary to deal with cases of domestic abuse by increasing its scope and ambit.

In Preeti Gupta v. State of Jharkhand[10] case wherein the complainant filed a complaint before the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Ranchi under Section 498-A, 406, 341, 323 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code read with Sections 3 and 4 of the Dowry Prohibition Act against all the immediate relations of her husband including her father-in-law, husband, mother-in-law, unmarried brother-in-law and married sister-in-law. However, the court found that the complainant never lived with the accused; therefore, the accusations in the complaint were held to be meant only for the purpose of harassing and humiliate the husband’s relatives.

In another case of Ashok Kumar v. Vijay Laxmi[11] the wife (Respondent) made false allegations against his husband (Appellant) that there was a conspiracy to burn and kill her which was never done by him. Respondent filed a false report against the husband as a result of which he suffered from mental pain, agony & humiliation which he continues to suffer. Thus, the Delhi Court while delivering its judgment in favour of the husband held that the Respondent is guilty of having caused mental torture of the gravest nature to the Appellant which can be termed as cruelty.

IV. Conclusion

Despite the high prevalence of domestic violence in today’s society, it is quite evident from the above-mentioned discussion and study that the perception or awareness of the victims towards law and stringent measures against domestic violence is very low. Therefore, it is necessary that continuous efforts are made to raise public consciousness in reporting domestic violence cases with the help of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

This will help us get a clearer picture of the current status of domestic abuse prevalence in the country and how we can overcome this issue by providing adequate protection and compensation to the victims. Further, the laws in place are insufficient as per the current scenario to punish the perpetrators of domestic abuse like in the case of sexual abuse and therefore, it is a need of the hour that we get structured and comprehensive legislation covering all kinds of domestic abuses, and not only the physical ones.

[1] Perception and prevalence of domestic violence in the study population, Available here

[2] The “battering syndrome”: prevalence and clinical characteristics of domestic violence in primary care internal medicine practices. 1995 Nov 15; 123(10):737-46, Available here

[3] References Examining Assaults By Women On Their Spouses Or Male Partners: An Annotated Bibliography. [Last accessed on 2011 Sept 8]. Available here

[4] Is domestic violence followed by an increased risk of psychiatric disorders among women but not among men? A longitudinal cohort study. Ehrensaft MK, Moffitt TE, Caspi AAm J Psychiatry. 2006 May; 163(5):885-92.

[5] 5. Sahoo, Harihar, Pradhan MR. New Delhi: INDE: Serials; 2009. Domestic Violence In India: An Empirical Analysis, available here

[6] National Family Health Survey III. 2005-2006;1(Chapter 15.4):507–20.


[8] Kunhiabdulla v. State of Kerala, (2004) 4 SCC 13.

[9] 2019 SCC OnLine SC 726.

[10] AIR 2010 SC 3363.

[11] AIR 1992 Del. 182.

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Updated On 10 March 2023 1:10 PM GMT


Deepshikha is a law student from National Law University, Odisha.

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