Background: Although one cannot underestimate the importance of macrosystem-level forces (such as cultural and social norms) in the aetiology of gender-based violence within any country, including India, individual-level variables (such as observing violence between one's parents while growing up) may also play important roles in the development of such violence. Therefore, this research studies men residing in northern India to: (1) estimate the prevalence of men's childhood experiences of witnessing parent-to-parent violence within their families of origin; (2) examine whether men raised in violent homes were more likely than men raised in non-violent homes to have attitudes supportive of husbands' control of their wives; (3) examine whether men raised in violent homes were more likely than men raised in non-violent homes to be abusive toward their own wives; and (4) estimate the extent to which wife abuse in this second generation could have been prevented had there not been parent-to-parent violence in the men's natal families.
Methods: Married men (n = 6902) were surveyed concerning: their childhood experiences of witnessing parent-to-parent violence in their families of origin; their attitudes regarding the appropriateness of husbands' control of their wives; their physically and sexually abusive behaviours toward their own wives; and sociodemographic variables. Descriptive statistics, multivariable modelling procedures, and estimation of a population attributable fraction were used to address the study questions.
Results: Approximately one-third of the men had witnessed parent-to-parent violence as a child. Compared to men raised in non-violent homes, men from violent homes were significantly more likely to believe in husbands' rights to control their wives, and to be physically/sexually abusive toward their own wives. Non-violence in the earlier generation was strongly predictive of non-violence in the second generation, with about a third of the wife abuse in the second generation being attributable to parent-to-parent violence in the first generation.
Conclusions: These findings from northern India are congruent with those from other geographical/cultural settings in suggesting that witnessing violence between one's parents while growing up is an important risk factor for the perpetration of partner violence in adulthood.