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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 245-249

A community-based survey on evaluation of prevalence of domestic violence against women in the rural area of Pondicherry

1 Department of Community Medicine, MGMCRI, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University), Puducherry, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna, Bihar, India

Date of Submission17-Jul-2020
Date of Decision29-Nov-2020
Date of Acceptance17-Aug-2021
Date of Web Publication27-May-2022

Correspondence Address:
Abhijit Vinodrao Boratne
Department of Community Medicine, MGMCRI, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University), Pillaiyarkuppam, Puducherry - 607 402
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cjhr.cjhr_95_20

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Background: Domestic violence refers to type of family violence, which includes elder abuse, child abuse, wife abuse, and other forms of violence between family members. Not only is a women's physical and mental well-being perturbed by domestic violence but it also takes a toll on their child rearing attributes, thereby victimizing children as well. Various studies have shown the prevalence of domestic violence in different developed as well as developing countries. However, there are few studies available on the domestic violence among women in the rural areas of India. Therefore, the present study was designed to estimate the prevalence of domestic violence in the rural regions of Pondicherry. Materials and Methods: This community-based study was conducted on a total of 623 women in the age group of 15–49 years, which were recruited by following the inclusion/exclusion criteria given by demographic and health surveys. The selected population was further distributed based on the different demographic characteristics such as education, type of family, occupation, marital status, and type of marriage. The Chi-square test was used to analyze the observations. Results: A statistically significant association was noted between marital status and domestic violence with incidents of domestic violence being more in the married women (P = 0.01), especially those employed (P = 0.004). Women with alcoholic husbands and receiving dowry threats were more prone to domestic violence (P < 0.00001). Conclusion: This study indicates that, although an advanced educational status of women is a protective factors against domestic violence in both married and unmarried woman, employed woman are more often targets of violence exalting the need to upscale societal sensitization in tandem with educational programs for girl child.

Keywords: Child abuse, marital status, occupations, prevalence

How to cite this article:
Kanagarajan P, Bharati D R, Sharadha M P, Lokeshmaran A, Boratne AV. A community-based survey on evaluation of prevalence of domestic violence against women in the rural area of Pondicherry. CHRISMED J Health Res 2021;8:245-9

How to cite this URL:
Kanagarajan P, Bharati D R, Sharadha M P, Lokeshmaran A, Boratne AV. A community-based survey on evaluation of prevalence of domestic violence against women in the rural area of Pondicherry. CHRISMED J Health Res [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jul 7];8:245-9. Available from: https://www.cjhr.org/text.asp?2021/8/4/245/346106

  Introduction Top

The phenomenon of domestic violence is as old as humans worldwide with victims suffering in silence and no due public acknowledgement of the victim's plight.[1] Violence against women is the most ubiquitous, unrecognized human rights violation in the world and it is a precarious public health problem that has a shocking physical, psychological effect across all societies, and classes in the world. It is primarily the establishment of fear and control in a relationship through physical, mental torture, sexual assault, and threats.[2]

The United Nations have defined violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological detriment or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion, or capricious deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.”[3]

The World report on violence and health divides the violence into various types, of which domestic violence is the gravest public as well as society health issue.[3]

Previous studies have reported the prevalence of domestic violence in different developed as well as developing countries such as Canada, US, Australia, China, and India.[4],[5],[6],[7],[8] Literature reports from India reveal that the prevalence of domestic violence fluctuates widely from 18% to 70% (with differences in the study methodology), and it was realized that the enormity of this problem has not been accounted well from the several parts of India.[4],[8]

However, these studies fail to explain the reason of domestic violence among the women based on their individual and family characteristics such as their education, occupation, and marital status.

In light of the above knowledge and with not much data available to determine the prevalence of domestic violence in unexplored regions of India, the present study was planned to determine the prevalence of domestic violence against women with distinct demographic features in the well-organized community-based research at five different study areas of Pondicherry.

  Materials and Methods Top

This community-based research study was conducted in five different rural areas of Pondicherry from January 2010 to December 2010. Before commencement of the study, the Institutional Ethics Committee approval as well as prior informed consent of participants was obtained. The inclusion and exclusion criteria used for the study were according to the demographic and health surveys guidelines.[5] A total of 623 women in the age range of 15–49 years who belonged to any one of the category of married, unmarried, widow, separated, pregnant, and compromised psychological well-being due to violence were included in the study. Women who were temporary visitors or migrants or were reluctant to participate in the study were excluded.

The sample size was calculated using the prevalence formula. Type 1 error was set at 95%. On assuming proportion of domestic violence against women between 15 and 49 years to be 39%, at 95% of confidence level and 10% relative error, based on family and health survey III data, the sample size of 601 was estimated.[6] Considering a 10% nonresponse rate, minimum sample size required was 668. Hence, for this study, 684 women were selected from the 1936 eligible women using the simple random sampling. Out of these 684 women, as 61 women did not respond, analysis carried out based on the response provided by 623 women.

Sociodemographic details of all the women were obtained. Data sets were collected weekly basis with survey done in all five rural areas monitored in this studied. For the purpose of identification of domestic violence, face-to-face interviews were conducted by the auxiliary nurse midwife preferably in afternoon twice every week. There were about 10 women interviewed in each visit. Interview was done based on the WHO guidelines to maintain confidentiality of the participating women according to which only one woman was interviewed from every household. Care was taken that the interview was done in the absence of the perpetrator in safe place. During the study procedure, it was also noted that most of the women had left the ir house because of domestic violence and in few cases women were either hiding from their abusive spouses or were not available on the first visit (either employed or temporary out of station) and followed up on subsequent site visits.[8] In such cases the study subjects were considered as nonrespondents. Educational category, occupation, type of marriage, type of family, demands of dowry, alcoholism habits of the husband.[7],[8]

The data were analyzed using the Epi info version 2.3 and Statistical Product and Service Solutions (SPSS) version 16 (IBM®, India). The prevalence of domestic violence and its association to educational category, occupation, type of marriage, type of family, demands of dowry, and alcoholism habits of the husband were assessed using the Chi-square test P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

  Results Top

According to the distribution of the demographic characteristics of the study population including all the study areas, eligibility criteria and acquisition of consent, a sample population of 623 women in the age range of 15–49 years were analyzed. Among the study participants, it was observed that 15.7% women were illiterate, 11.1% had primary education, 26.2% attended middle school, and 16.2% had diploma/degree. Based on family type, it was noted that 79.1% of the women lived in nuclear family and only 20.9% of the women lived in the joint family. Housewives/unemployed females constituted majority of the followed by agriculture based (10.9%), government employee (6.9%), private employee (6.6%), self-employee/daily wagers (2.4%), and student (4.8%). There were 24.7% women who belonged to the never married category, 67.3% were married/living with partner, 3.5% were separated/divorced, and 4.5% were widows. It was further noted that out of the married women, 75.5% of the women had arranged marriage, whereas only 24.5% of the study population had love marriage. Among women who were ever married, domestic violence was noted among 259 (55.2) of them while it was absent for 210 (44.8) women. In the case of women who had never married, 68 (44.2) witnessed domestic violence while it was absent for 86 (55.8) of them.

A significant dependency was noted between married status and domestic violence with incidents of domestic violence being more in the married women (P = 0.01). Emotional violence and cumulative emotional and physical violence were the most observed form of domestic violence in the ever-married category of females [Table 1].
Table 1: Distribution of domestic violence and few characteristics of the study participants

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A highly significant association was noted between domestic violence and educational category in both the ever married and the unmarried group (P < 0.00001) depicting that the chances of not being subjected to domestic violence was more in women who were educated irrespective of marital status.

The percentage of employed married women facing domestic violence was observed to be significantly higher (P = 0.004).

A dependency between type of family and domestic violence was observed with exposure to domestic violence noted more for women with nuclear family as compared to the participants with joint family in both married and unmarried woman (P = 0.0032; 0.004). Women with husband who were alcoholic and demanded dowry were more prone to domestic violence which was statistically significant (P < 0.00001) [Table 2].
Table 2: Association between the characteristics of the study population and domestic violence

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  Discussion Top

The present study assays the magnitude of domestic violence and its association with different individual and family characteristic of women in five different rural areas of Pondicherry.

In this study, it has been observed that the magnitude of domestic violence was significantly more in ever-married women as compared to never-married women, which was consistent with the estimates given by National Family and Health Survey-3 (NFHS-3).[9]

The present study statistically significant findings among the different types of violence, especially emotional violence and cumulative emotional and physical violence between the ever-married women and never-married women was in slight contrast to the studies done by Jeyaseelan et al. revealing 26% physical violence during the lifetime and Jejeebhoy concluding that 25% of women reported physical violence.[10],[11] In our study, however, 52% of the women surveyed reported some form of domestic violence. This dissonance in findings can be attributed to varying societal culture across regions, differing circumstances of women, family settings, and the escalation of domestic violence in India within the two decades.[8]

The findings of the current study reveal husbands as the main culprit of violence. These results were also consistent with the studies conducted by Babu and Kar who reported that husbands were mostly responsible for violence in majority of cases and some women reported the involvement of husbands' parents.[12]

In this study, higher women's education in both ever and never married women was significantly associated with, lower the domestic violence. A study conducted by Boyle et al. in Tamil Nadu, Jeejeebhoy in Uttar Pradesh, and Panda in Kerala reported similar types of observation.[11],[12],[13] The NFHS 3 reported percentage of women often experiencing violence declines with education, from 6% for women with no education to 1% for women who have the highest level of education.[14]

In this study, employed women belong to ever married women group reported significantly more domestic violence as compared to unemployed women in the same group, but there was no significant association observed between never married women occupation and domestic violence. Possible reasons behind this observed dichotomy between married and unmarried employed women may be due to increased demands of dowry or wages earned by spouses and in-laws, envy of offenders, and the ill-conceived notion of employed women compromising her household duties to earn a wage. Panda and Agarwal from Kerala found that women's employment status was made no significant difference to marital violence.[15] In NFHS3, noted that higher prevalence of violence noted among employed women.[9],[16] Dave found that increased marital violence in paid employed women.[17] A study conducted in Bangalore by Krishnan et al. among low- income communities shown, the unemployed women reported lesser domestic violence which is in consonance with our findings.[18] Spousal insecurity, patriarchal family setup, and financial subjugation of married women seem to be factors at play in this scenario.

This study shows no significant association between domestic violence and type of marriage either love or arranged. However, a study conducted by Krishnan et al. in South India and Rocca et al. in a slum area of Bangalore reported, more domestic violence was seen in love marriage.[18],[19]

Significantly, a greater number of women reported domestic violence whose husband was alcoholic in this study. A study conducted in Tamil Nadu shown, husband regularly consuming alcohol was at increased risk of spousal violence and the study conducted in rural India shows an alcoholic husband emerged as the main cause for domestic violence and similar type of evidences supported by international studies.[20],[21],[22]

The results of the present study reported of women in the nuclear family being more subjected to domestic violence which was further substantiated by the study conducted in Maharashtra on women from nuclear families reporting higher magnitude of violence.[23]

The plausible reasons for variations in the findings of the present study from previous literature could be attributed to the regional and population-based differences. Moreover, differences in the strategy of different studies such as method of interviewing, inclusion criteria, and sociodemographic factors prevailing in the local communities also influence the prevalence rates of domestic violence.

However, the present study was first of its kind in assessing the magnitude of domestic violence and its association with different characteristics of women population in the Pondicherry area, thus, filling in the lacunae in the existing literature.

Nevertheless, the study has few potential limitations such as disclosure-related bias and nonresponse that could have probably lead to an underestimation of the amount of violence. The factors associated with domestic violence might differ between different age groups, between different geographical settings, and between different cultures and from cross-sectional studies that do not allow for determination of causality. Hence, multiregional studies on domestic violence can produce a better understanding of the prevalent scenario.

  Conclusion Top

The key findings of this study pertaining to the alarming prevalence of domestic violence against women in rural India, especially among employed married women, and the salient role of education as an empowering factor serve as a wakeup call for our society at large. It can be inferred that educational measures for women may fall short of achieving independence and dignity if they are not complemented with gender sensitization programs targeted at changing patriarchal notions entrenched in the society. The prevention of violence against women requires strengthening existing legal reform and implementing concrete social policy measures in the areas of education, employment, and social protection, fostering gender equality, and women's empowerment. The impact of such integration will also need to be evaluated frequently for the successful prevention of domestic violence.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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World Health Organization. WHO Multi-Country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women: Initial Results on Prevalence, Health Outcomes and Women's Responses. World Health Organization; 2005. Available from: https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/violence/24159358X/en/. [Last accessed on 2020 Jul 05].  Back to cited text no. 4
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Jejeebhoy SJ. Wife-beating in rural India: A husband's, right? Evidence from survey data. Econ Polit Wkly 1998;33:855-62.  Back to cited text no. 11
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Panda P. Domestic violence and women's property ownership: Delving deeper into the linkages in Kerala'. In: ICRW, editor. Property Ownership and Inheritance Rights of Women for Social Protection–The South Asia Experience: Synthesis Report of Three Studies. Delhi: ICRW; 2006.  Back to cited text no. 13
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Panda P, Agarwal B. Marital violence, human development and women's property status in India. World Dev 2005;33:823-50.  Back to cited text no. 15
Krug EG, Dahlberg LL, Mercy JA, Zwi AB, Lozano R. Violence by intimate partners. In: World Report on Violence and Health. Ch. 4. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2002.  Back to cited text no. 16
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Krishnan S, Rocca CH, Hubbard AE, Subbiah K, Edmeades J, Padian NS. Do changes in spousal employment status lead to domestic violence? Insights from a prospective study in Bangalore, India. Soc Sci Med 2010;70:136-43.  Back to cited text no. 18
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Solomon S, Subbaraman R, Solomon SS, Srikrishnan AK, Johnson SC, Vasudevan CK, et al. Domestic violence and forced sex among the urban poor in South India: Implications for HIV prevention. Violence Against Women 2009;15:753-73.  Back to cited text no. 20
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