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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Domestic violence against women in eastern India: a population-based study on prevalence and related issues

Bontha V Babu12* and Shantanu K Kar1

Author Affiliations

1 Regional Medical Research Centre, Indian Council of Medical Research, Bhubaneswar-751 023, Orissa, India

2 Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi-110 029, India

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BMC Public Health 2009, 9:129  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-129

Published: 9 May 2009



Violence against women is now widely recognised as an important public health problem, owing to its health consequences. Violence against women among many Indian communities on a regularly basis goes unreported. The objective of this study is to report the prevalence and other related issues of various forms of domestic violence against women from the eastern zone of India.


It is a population-based study covering both married women (n = 1718) and men (n = 1715) from three of the four states of Eastern India selected through a systematic multistage sampling strategy. Interviews were conducted using separate pre-piloted structured questionnaires for women (victimization) and men (perpetration). Women were asked whether their husband or any other family members committed violent acts against them. And men were asked whether they had ever perpetrated violent acts against their wives. Three principle domestic violence outcome variables (physical, psychological and sexual violence) were determined by response to a set of questions for each variable. In addition, data on socio-economic characteristics were collected. Descriptive statistics, bi- and multivariate analyses were done.


The overall prevalence of physical, psychological, sexual and any form of violence among women of Eastern India were 16%, 52%, 25% and 56% respectively. These rates reported by men were 22%, 59%, 17% and 59.5% respectively. Men reported higher prevalence of all forms of violence apart from sexual violence. Husbands were mostly responsible for violence in majority of cases and some women reported the involvement of husbands' parents. It is found that various acts of violence were continuing among majority of women who reported violence. Some socio-economic characteristics of women have significant association with the occurrence of domestic violence. Urban residence, older age, lower education and lower family income are associated with occurrence of domestic violence. Multivariate logistic regressions revealed that the physical violence has significant association with state, residence (rural or urban), age and occupation of women, and monthly family income. Similar associations are found for psychological violence (with residence, age, education and occupation of the women and monthly family income) and sexual violence (with residence, age and educational level of women).


The prevalence of domestic violence in Eastern India is relatively high compared to majority of information available from India and confirms that domestic violence is a universal phenomenon. The primary healthcare institutions in India should institutionalise the routine screening and treatment for violence related injuries and trauma. Also, these results provide vital information to assess the situation to develop public health interventions, and to sensitise the concerned agencies to implement the laws related to violence against women.