Global Health Project 2017

Husbands and Family Influence on Gender Based Violence 

     Reported rates of Gender Based Violence (GBV) victimization in India range between 40% and 83% (Kumar et al., 2005; Vizcarra et al., 2004). Encompassing physical, sexual, psychological and verbal aggression in intimate relationships, GBV victimization has long term social, economic, and negative health outcome implications for Indian women (Bangdiwala et al., 2005; Chibber & Krishnan, 2011; Vizcarra et al., 2004). I will be focusing on the ways in which family and husband victimization influences perceptions of GBV. Does the family have a significant effect in perpetuating or stopping violence? How do different relatives and their roles influence IPV? Is the family a strong or weak social support?

The term “intimate partner violence” describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy. In fact, intimate partner violence has been known to take several forms including psychological abuse and forms of control or neglect of the victim. IPV is a global issue with universal characteristics but there are variables specific to India that demand further investigation and understanding. For example, Indian women discuss the high frequency and near normalization of control, psychological abuse, neglect, and isolation. There are dowry harassments, control over reproductive choices and family planning (Kalokhe et al 2017). In contrast to women in industrialized nations, Indian women report the use of different tools to inflict pain: kerosene burning, stones, and broomsticks as opposed to gun and knife violence. The difference in IPV experience is an added variable to the health consequences women develop and what prevention methods communities should create.

Gender based violence is a public health issue in both the developed and developing world. As many studies have shown there are negative health consequences related specifically to IPV on women. In a study investigating the different health consequences among violence against women which includes different forms of interpersonal violence perpetrated by partners (IPV) and other known/unknown men in the home, workplace or other social environments there was a striking connection between IPV and health consequences. The likelihood of coronary heart disease, chronic neck, and back pain was higher among women who reported IPV than among those who did not (Vives-Cases, 2010). Women who report IPV are also more likely to experience a range of psychological consequences like depression, PTSD, insomnia, anxiety, suicidal ideation, self-harm. There is also an increase in developing chronic illnesses like diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disorders, and respiratory disorders among these women (Dillon, 2013). Additionally, pain has been found to persist after IPV has stopped and is not a result of other violence against women (Vives-Cases, 2010). IPV and its concurrent health consequences are all preventable therefore should be treated as a primary healthcare concern worldwide. The preventative measures are stemmed in social systems and mental frames: education, women’s empowerment, reframing masculinity, and economic growth, which makes much of the curative treatments volatile without a comprehensive system for IPV victims post-violence. Understanding the intersection of chronic physical and psychological disorders with the perpetuation of IPV can give researchers a clear idea of how to intervene the vicious cycle.

Gender based violence also has the dimension of the stage of life that the victim is in. Both young and older women experience GBV at alarming rates yet are experiencing different and changing family dynamics. Since birth, females are marginalized in comparison to males beginning with the belief that sons are more valuable in the family. Patriarchy is sewn through generations and as women grow, fewer resources are devoted to daughters. Restricting women from quality education increases their chances of GBV since education is a measure of reducing the risk of IPV incidents (Jewkes, 2002). Also, early marriage occurs in 45% of young, married women and may play as a risk in enhancing GBV (Raj, Saggurti, Balaiah, & Silverman, 2009). Between expectations of the husband, his family and her family to perform her wifely duties ‘properly’ and pressure of birthing a male child, young women are susceptible of becoming victims of GBV easier. Later in life, culturally bred views of dishonor associated with widowhood may also influence susceptibility to GBV by other family members (Saravanan, 2000). In a study it was found that acceptance of mistreatment at the community level silences some of the IPV risk reduction associated with higher levels of individual education (Boyle, 2009). The community attitude includes other women who viewed mistreatment as tolerable and plays into the phenomenon of women, mother-in-laws specifically, increasing the risk of GBV by supporting harmful patriarchal traditions. This further begs the question of how family relationships plays a role in perpetuating violence since GBV can be supported and maintained through different methods other than blatant physical and psychological abuse by the spouse.



Boyle, M. H., Georgiades, K., Cullen, J., & Racine, Y. (2009). Community influences on intimate partner violence in India: Women’s education, attitudes towards mistreatment and standards of living. Social Science & Medicine, 69, 691-697.

Dillon, G., Hussain, R., Loxton, D., & Rahman, S. (2013). Mental and physical health and intimate partner violence against women: A review of the literature. International Journal of Family Medicine, 1-15.

Jewkes, R. (2002). Intimate partner violence: causes and prevention. The Lancet, 359, 1423-1429.

Kalokhe, A., Del Rio, C., Dunkle, K., Stephenson, R., Metheny, N., Paranjape, A., & Sahay, S. (2017). Domestic violence against women in India: A systematic review of a decade of quantitative studies. Glob Public Health, 12(4), 498-513.

Raj A, Saggurti N, Balaiah D, Silverman JG. Prevalence of child marriage and its effect on fertility and fertility-control outcomes of young women in India: A cross-sectional, observational study. Lancet. 2009; 373(9678):1883–1889. S0140-6736(09)60246-4 [pii]. DOI: 10.1016/ S0140-6736(09)60246-4

Saravanan, S. Violence against women in India. 2000.

Vives-Cases, C., Ruiz-Cantero, M. T., Escriba-Aguir, V., & Miralles, J. J. (2010). The effect of intimate partner violence and other forms of violence against women on health. Journal of Public Health, 33(1), 15-21.