Abuse from in-laws during pregnancy and post-partum: qualitative and quantitative findings from low-income mothers of infants in Mumbai, India

Matern Child Health J. 2011 Aug;15(6):700-12. doi: 10.1007/s10995-010-0651-2.


To examine experiences of perinatal (in pregnancy or post-partum) abuse from in-laws and to assess associations between such experiences and perinatal intimate partner violence (IPV) from husbands, as reported by Indian women residing in low-income communities in Mumbai. The present study includes both qualitative and quantitative research conducted across two phases of study. The qualitative phase involved face-to-face, semi-structured in-depth interviews (n = 32) with women seeking health care for their infants (6 months or younger) and self-reporting emotional or physical abuse from their husband. The quantitative arm involved survey data collection (n = 1,038) from mothers seeking immunization for their infants 6 months or younger at three large Urban Health Centers in Mumbai. Results of the qualitative study documented the occurrence of both non-physical and physical abuse from in-laws during pregnancy and post-partum. Non-physical forms of abuse included forced heavy domestic labor, food denial and efforts toward prevention of medical care acquisition. Quantitative results demonstrated that 26.3% of the sample reported perinatal abuse (non-physical and physical) from in-laws and that women experiencing perinatal sexual or physical IPV from husbands were significantly more likely to report perinatal abuse from in-laws (AOR = 5.33, 95% CI = 3.93-7.23). Perinatal abuse from in-laws is not uncommon among women in India and may be compromising maternal and child health in this context; such abuse is also linked to perinatal violence from husbands. Programs and interventions that screen and address IPV in pregnant and post-partum populations in India should be developed to include consideration of in-laws.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Battered Women / psychology*
  • Battered Women / statistics & numerical data
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Postpartum Period / psychology
  • Poverty / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology*
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Young Adult