Intimate partner violence against women during and after pregnancy: a cross-sectional study in Mumbai slums

Sushmita Das et al

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:817 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-817


At least one-third of women in India experience intimate partner violence (IPV) at some point in adulthood. Our objectives were to describe the prevalence of IPV during pregnancy and after delivery in an urban slum setting, to review its social determinants, and to explore its effects on maternal and newborn health.


We did a cross-sectional study nested within the data collection system for a concurrent trial. Through urban community surveillance, we identified births in 48 slum areas and interviewed mothers ~6 weeks later. After collecting information on demographic characteristics, socioeconomic indicators, and maternal and newborn care, we asked their opinions on the justifiability of IPV and on their experience of it in the last 12 months.


Of 2139 respondents, 35% (748) said that violence was justifiable if a woman disrespected her in-laws or argued with her husband, failed to provide good food, housework and childcare, or went out without permission. 318 (15%, 95% CI 13, 16%) reported IPV in the year that included pregnancy and the postpartum period. Physical IPV was reported by 247 (12%, 95% CI 10, 13%), sexual IPV by 35 (2%, 95% CI 1, 2%), and emotional IPV by 167 (8%, 95% CI 7, 9). 219 (69%) women said that the likelihood of IPV was either unaffected by or increased during maternity. IPV was more likely to be reported by women from poorer families and when husbands used alcohol. Although 18% of women who had suffered physical IPV sought clinical care for their injuries, seeking help from organizations outside the family to address IPV itself was rare. Women who reported IPV were more likely to have reported illness during pregnancy and use of modern methods of family planning. They were more than twice as likely to say that there were situations in which violence was justifiable (odds ratio 2.6, 95% CI 1.7, 3.4).


One in seven women suffered IPV during or shortly after pregnancy. The elements of the violent milieu are mutually reinforcing and need to be taken into account collectively in responding to both individual cases and framing public health initiatives.