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The conventional definition of domestic violence in a heterosexual marriage primarily focused on this type of mistreatment, where the woman was typically the victim and the husband


The conventional definition of domestic violence in a heterosexual marriage primarily focused on this type of mistreatment, where the woman was typically the victim and the husband the perpetrator. The term “domestic violence” was coined to describe violent behavior within the home and can lead to this type of abuse. With increased research, domestic violence has become more widely acknowledged. While previous laws addressed general assault, this legislation strengthened them by categorizing violence against women as a severe crime that required greater attention. It was assumed that this law would primarily benefit victims of domestic violence by providing them with enhanced protection.

Society’s more inclusive perspectives have improved our understanding of the types of violence that can occur in intimate relationships and that the roles of abuser and victim are not limited to a particular gender. The phrase “intimate partner violence” was created to provide a broader description of violence in romantic relationships. While its exact origin is uncertain, it gained traction around 2000.


The term “intimate partner violence” has allowed us to move away from the obsolete notion that only married men can be abusive and their wives are the only victims. This phrase acknowledges that any intimate relationship, regardless of gender, marital status, or sexual orientation, can experience abuse. Unlike the term “domestic violence,” which differentiates between the abuser and victim, “intimate partner violence” does not make such a distinction.

While language around intimate partner violence is changing, it remains challenging to identify victims who do not fit the traditional stereotype of women in heterosexual relationships. Some parts of our society still perceive the typical male as dominant, causing male victims in same-sex or opposite-sex relationships to hesitate to seek help due to concerns about being ostracised by their peers, family, and social circles.

Domestic and intimate partner violence describes a pattern of abuse and control within personal and close relationships. It can be challenging to break this cycle of violence without help and support from external networks. Domestic violence can affect anyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. It usually involves repeated acts of abuse that escalate in severity. It can include verbal, physical, sexual, psychological, economic, or even terrorist actions, threats, and intimidation that can result in severe harm or death.


The only domestic violence legislation ever approved in India are ‘Section 498A of the Indian Criminal Code [1]’, ‘the Dowry Prevention Act of 1961 [2]’, and the ‘Domestic Violence Act of 2005 [3]’. None of these laws gives victims of other genders any recourse for defense or redress for the crimes perpetrated against them. A humanitarian interpretation of language and [4]legislation and an openness to thoughts or values that may differ from our own are essential for the maintenance and proper execution of the law.

Currently, there are three primary laws for seeking protection against “Domestic or Intimate Partner Violence” in India:

The Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act, 2005[5]: It is legislation enacted by the Parliament of India to protect women from physical, sexual, emotional, and economic abuse, which have been defined under the Act. It broadens the protection provided to women with a live-in relationship with the offender and other family members, offering security, financial compensation, and the right to live in their mutual house.

Section 498(a) of the IPC: It is a criminal law with a vast scope to include any cruel and ill-intentional behaviour towards women which may result in injury, a risk to life, an attempt to suicide or risking overall health, both mental and physical. The law applies to husbands and any family member of the husband that subjects the victim to harassment for dowry. Also, it recognised her forced sex as a crime before the Supreme Court verdict classified it under rape in September 2022.[6]

Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 [7]: A criminal law that prohibits the giving and accepting of dowry, banning the tradition. Offer, acceptance or demands of dowry can result in punishments including minimum 6-month imprisonment, fines up to fifteen thousand rupees or both.


The physical impacts of violence against men can include injuries, assault-related severe injuries, and, in sporadic cases, fatalities, but they are less potent than psychological ones. Studies have revealed numerous psychological effects of violence toward men. Men frequently display these emotions, including anger, vengeance, guilt, fear, emotional injury, unwantedness, and helplessness. The more violent a situation is, the more likely someone will experience significant depression, stress, and psychosomatic issues. Some research has shown that men who have experienced violence have higher rates of psychological distress and depression than men who have not.[8] It is critical to read these repressed feelings while remembering that they are also experienced internally.

A 2018 survey conducted in Germany found that 324 women and 97 men had been the targets of attempted or actual murder by their (former) partners. Even though only 3% of all incidents are reported to the police, the Federal Criminal Police Office says that men between 30 and 39 are the most frequently impacted by domestic violence. 67% of the afflicted males had no injuries, but 21% had hematomas and contusions, 7% experienced discomfort, and 5% had brain damage, according to Walter W., Lenz H-J, and Puchert R. Gewalt. [9]

A community-based, cross-sectional research by Jagbir Singh Malik and Anuradha Nadda using multistage random sampling revealed that 52.4% of married males in Haryana between the ages of 21 and 49 were questioned reported having experienced gender-based violence. 51.5% of the 1000 men who said this were male, and 10.5% of those occurrences (10.5%) involved violence by spouses or intimate partners.[10]


Men are also victims of gender-based violence in addition to women. Future research and action on gender-based violence against men are required in India. Ultimately, the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961[11], Section 498(a) of the Indian Penal Code[12], and the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act 2005 [13] are all critical pieces of law. The Act’s flaws do not overshadow the enormous advantage they might provide for women. Still, it would be desirable to expand its scope and apply it to people of other genders equally harmed by domestic abuse.

Author(s) Name: Navaneeth P Nair (Indian Institute of Management Rohtak)


[1] Indian Penal Code 1986, s 498(a)

[2] Dowry Prohibition Act 1961

[3] Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005

[4] Indian Penal Code 1986, s 498(a)

[5] Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005

[6] Krishnadas Rajagopal, ‘Sexual assault of wife can take form of rape: Supreme Court’ (The Hindu, 29 September 2022) <,unwanted%20pregnancy%20of%20between%2020%20and%2024%20weeks> accessed 09 February 2023

[7] Dowry Prohibition Act 1961

[8] Milen L. Radell, et al, ‘The Impact of Different Types of Abuse on Depression’ (2021) Depression Research and Treatment <> accessed 15 February 2023

[9] Verena Kolbe and Andreas Buttner, ‘Domestic Violence Against Men—Prevalence and Risk Factors’ (2020)  117(31-32) Deutsches Arzteblatt International <> accessed 13 February 2023

[10] Jagbir Singh Malik, ‘A Cross-sectional Study of Gender-Based Violence against Men in the Rural Area of Haryana, India’ (2019) 44 (1) Indian Journal of Community Medicine: Official Publication of Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine <> accessed 16 February 2023

[11] Dowry Prohibition Act 1961

[12] Indian Penal Code 1986, s 498(a)

[13] Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005