Confronting Domestic Violence

One incident of domestic violence is reported in India every five minutes. It has a lasting impact on the physical and mental health of victims and their families. Children in abusive households suffer serious consequences on their health, educational and employment outcomes, and are highly susceptible to adopting the same behaviors as adults – creating a cycle of mindless abuse and deprivation in society. Dasra’s report, No Private Matter, lays out the key challenges and solutions, alongside the work of scalable and impactful social organizations for funders’ consideration.
Domestic violence is a pervasive reality in India, shrouded in a culture of shame and silence:
  • 50-70% of women in India face some form of domestic violence.
  • Only 2% of victims approach the police.
  • 57% of boys and 53% of girls aged 15-19 believe that wife-beating is acceptable.
  • 75% of Indian women who have reported domestic violence have attempted suicide.

Domestic violence is not inevitable and can be confronted through strategies across the prevention-amelioration-reconstruction continuum:
  • The number of reported cases increased by 134% between 2003 and 2013 – experts say the passing of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (PWDVA) in 2005 has encouraged more women to speak up.
  • A powerful media campaign resulted in a five-fold increase in the number of women reporting abuse, and their awareness of the law and its entitlements.
  • 60% of women reported a decrease in violence and discrimination following a 15-week program with men and boys.
Dasra has identified the following four priority areas for addressing domestic violence in India, which need critical attention from all stakeholders – government, non-profits, academia and funders:
  • Strengthening implementation of PWDVA: Improving convergence and cooperation between stakeholders, increasing budgetary outlays, raising awareness, and building capacity of implementing agencies. 
  • Emphasizing prevention and early intervention: Changing attitudes and social norms that condone violence, especially among men and boys, and intervening early with those at risk (of abusing or being abused), as well as focusing on prevention through economic empowerment of women. 
  • Leveraging the community: Nurturing informal networks, which are the first point of contact for victims, and involving influencers such as political, religious and other community leaders – to reduce violence in the community and challenge underlying mindsets. According to a WHO study, 55-95% of physically abused women did not approach any formal agency or authority. 
  • Building knowledge and evidence: Further research on patterns and risk factors for domestic violence, and evidence-based strategies for upscale and adoption by government.
Priority areas manifest on the ground through the following high-impact interventions undertaken by social organizations:
  • Community mobilization to deter and collectively respond to domestic violence by engaging formal public institutions (such as panchayats), community groups, and individual members of the public. 
  • Youth engagement to change attitudes and behaviors that condone domestic violence by engaging adolescents in communities and schools to create peer role models and promote non-violence and gender-equitable norms. 
  • Public awareness to help women recognize violence and use the law, access relevant services, and create large-scale constructive discourse on the topic. 
  • Leverage existing infrastructure by setting up intervention centers / cells within institutions such as police stations and public hospitals. 
  • Counseling services including medical, legal and psycho-social counseling to address multiple needs of the victim, including improving self-esteem and allaying anxiety. 
  • Legal case management to take on, manage and track victims of domestic violence as they progress through the legal system. 
  • Capacity building of stakeholders such as police, judiciary, health providers, protection officers, shelter homes etc. through greater role clarity and gender sensitization. 
  • Research and advocacy to build new knowledge, identify evidence-based strategies, develop sector guidelines, monitor implementation of the law, document best practices, and use these to inform advocacy.
  • Fund high-impact organizations that have been identified by Dasra after an assessment of ~110 organizations.
  • Contact one of these organizations to explore opportunities to partner.
  • Share this page with people you know to direct more support to the cause.