Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 700–712 | Cite as

Abuse from In-Laws during Pregnancy and Post-Partum: Qualitative and Quantitative Findings from Low-income Mothers of Infants in Mumbai, India

  • Anita Raj
  • Shagun Sabarwal
  • Michele R. Decker
  • Saritha Nair
  • Meghna Jethva
  • Suneeta Krishnan
  • Balaiah Donta
  • Niranjan Saggurti
  • Jay G. Silverman


To examine experiences of perinatal (in pregnancy or post-partum) abuse from in-laws and to assess associations between such experiences and perinatal intimate partner violence (IPV) from husbands, as reported by Indian women residing in low-income communities in Mumbai. The present study includes both qualitative and quantitative research conducted across two phases of study. The qualitative phase involved face-to-face, semi-structured in-depth interviews (n = 32) with women seeking health care for their infants (6 months or younger) and self-reporting emotional or physical abuse from their husband. The quantitative arm involved survey data collection (n = 1,038) from mothers seeking immunization for their infants 6 months or younger at three large Urban Health Centers in Mumbai. Results of the qualitative study documented the occurrence of both non-physical and physical abuse from in-laws during pregnancy and post-partum. Non-physical forms of abuse included forced heavy domestic labor, food denial and efforts toward prevention of medical care acquisition. Quantitative results demonstrated that 26.3% of the sample reported perinatal abuse (non-physical and physical) from in-laws and that women experiencing perinatal sexual or physical IPV from husbands were significantly more likely to report perinatal abuse from in-laws (AOR = 5.33, 95% CI = 3.93–7.23). Perinatal abuse from in-laws is not uncommon among women in India and may be compromising maternal and child health in this context; such abuse is also linked to perinatal violence from husbands. Programs and interventions that screen and address IPV in pregnant and post-partum populations in India should be developed to include consideration of in-laws.


Intimate partner violence In-law abuse India Pregnancy and postpartum 



We would like to acknowledge the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai for allowing us to conduct our study within their health posts, and we would like to thank Dr. Radha Y. Aras Dean of Preventive Medicine at TN Medical College and Nair Hospital for her ongoing guidance and support with this study. Additionally, we would like to recognize our data collection investigator team from the National Institute of Research on Reproductive Health, Shruti Kalan, Ratnamala Nagpure, Kavita Juneja, Sheela Panhalkar and Kirti Bodke for their sensitive and high quality data collection efforts for this study. We would also like to thank Saguna More for her role in data management and Kathleen MacDonald for her assistance with coding for the qualitative component of the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anita Raj
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shagun Sabarwal
    • 3
  • Michele R. Decker
    • 4
  • Saritha Nair
    • 5
  • Meghna Jethva
    • 5
  • Suneeta Krishnan
    • 6
    • 7
    • 8
  • Balaiah Donta
    • 5
  • Niranjan Saggurti
    • 9
  • Jay G. Silverman
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Social and Behavioral SciencesBoston University School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, Section of General Internal MedicineBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Society, Human Development and HealthHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Population, Family and Reproductive HealthJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.National Institute for Research in Reproductive HealthIndian Council of Medical ResearchMumbaiIndia
  6. 6.Women’s Global Health Imperative, RTI InternationalSan FranciscoUSA
  7. 7.Division of EpidemiologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  8. 8.Epidemiology & Statistics UnitSt. John’s Research InstituteBangaloreIndia
  9. 9.Population CouncilNew DelhiIndia

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