New measure of “gender-based household maltreatment” proposed (India)


A study of 1039 women in Mumbai has investigated the extent of non-violent “gender based household maltreatment” (GBHM) by husbands and in-laws.

A woman was recorded as having experienced GBHM if she answered yes to one or more of the following questions:

Did either your husband or your in-laws:

  • force you to bring money or other things from your parents’ home?
  • interfere in your ability to get health care for yourself?
  • interfere in your ability to get health care for your children?
  • stop you from getting enough food for yourself?
  • stop you from getting enough food for your children?
  • stop you from getting the rest you needed?
  • attempt to stop you from going to your natal home for the birth?
  • treat you badly for not having a boy child?
  • stop you from taking care of your children?
  • neglect/ignore your baby?
  • not care for your elder children when you needed it?

Did anyone assist you to prepare meals for the household?

Did anyone assist you to perform cleaning work for the household?

48.5% of the women marked one or more of these as “yes”. By far the most common concern was the last question about not receiving assistance from the family for household work. Around one third of women said yes to this. The other issues were marked yes by 1/20 women or fewer. This suggests that the questionnaire is combining quite a diversity of concerns.

The researchers found correlations between the GBHM measure and measures of pain during intercourse, vaginal bleeding and premature rupture of membranes, but not high blood pressure.

The researchers conclude that a family inclusive and community approach could be effective in addressing these issues, because some are normal household practices and not stigmatized or hidden.

Much of the research we profile on confirms this. The behaviours described above are highly amenable to change with information, education and support.


Silverman JG, Balaiah D, Ritter J, Dasgupta A, Boyce SC, Decker MR, Naik DD, Nair S, Saggurti N & Raj A (2016), Maternal morbidity associated with violence and maltreatment from husbands and in-laws: findings from Indian slum communities, BioMed Central

Image: Adam Cohn. Creative Commons.