Domestic violence in India: insights from the 2005-2006 national family health survey

J Interpers Violence. 2013 Mar;28(4):773-807. doi: 10.1177/0886260512455867. Epub 2012 Aug 30.


This article assesses the prevalence and risk factors of domestic violence in India. The study uses the 2005-2006 India National Family Health Survey-III (NFHS-III) and focuses on the 69,484 ever-married women ages 15 to 49 from all regions, who were administered the domestic violence module. The results show that 31% of respondents experienced physical violence in the past 12 months before the survey; the corresponding figure for sexual violence was 8.3%. The multivariate logistic regression results show key determinants of physical and sexual violence. Some of the most salient findings are that urban residence, household wealth, affiliation with Christian religious denominations, wife's age at marriage and education are associated with lower risk of physical and sexual violence. In contrast, being employed and being the wife of a man who drank alcohol increased the odds of experiencing both physical and sexual violence. Moreover, respondents who believed that wife-beating was justified under certain circumstances were more likely to experience domestic violence. These results and significant regional differences observed in this study suggest that gender role conditioning and cultural norms both contribute to domestic violence. Interventions, therefore, need to go beyond the institutional and legal levels to include cultural capital, which addresses partner and relationship issues.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Battered Women / psychology
  • Battered Women / statistics & numerical data*
  • Christianity / psychology
  • Educational Status
  • Family Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Surveys / methods*
  • Health Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Offenses / psychology
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult