Building Evidence from Intervention Research on Violence Against Women

Violence against women in India is a complex issue. Conducting research on the subject is fraught with ethical and methodological challenges because there are safety and confidentiality concerns for respondents. There is also social stigma and fear among survivors. As a result, there is little reliable social research on violence against women in India. Existing feminist analysis is often based on a small number of case studies. Although India's National Crime Records Bureau presents annual data on violence against women, it is drawn from police records and does not go beyond reporting statistics. There is a gap in knowledge about how violence plays out in the lives of women and how institutions respond in crisis situations.

This research project aims to produce an evidence-based analysis of domestic violence and sexual assault in India to assist with building a comprehensive, gender-sensitive healthcare response to sexual assault. India does not include domestic violence in health policy or public health programs. This analysis will help support ongoing advocacy, policy-making, and public interventions. The Centre for Enquiry Into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT), a research centre of Anusandhan Trust, will lead the project, analyze data, and write papers for peer-reviewed journals.

In 2000, CEHAT collaborated with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to establish a response to domestic violence at a public hospital. This initiative, known as "Dilaasa," was the first attempt to make accountable and sensitize India's health sector to the issue of violence against women. Dilaasa trained healthcare providers to recognize and respond to women reporting violence. A crisis intervention department was established where women facing domestic violence could receive psychosocial support.

To sustain the programs, a core group of doctors and nurses was selected to train their peers on how to respond to women seeking help. The training was offered to professionals in five hospitals and led to the emergence of a committed group of about 60 health professionals. They raised concerns about the need for a comprehensive response to survivors of sexual violence. They observed that the protocols for examination were not systematic across the hospitals and that doctors had no training in this area.

CEHAT seized the opportunity to establish a model for providing comprehensive services to sexual assault survivors at three of the hospitals that received a substantial number of survivors of sexual assault. This intervention produced rich empirical data from 2,400 case studies of women facing domestic violence and 100 sexual assault survivors. Data on burn cases taken from the hospital register and crisis centre records was also mined for analysis.

CEHAT will analyze this data and write papers for peer-reviewed journals. The papers will help ensure that the analysis is translated into scientific evidence to support policy planning and gender-sensitive health sector action that responds to gender-based violence.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

End Date

Friday, September 5, 2014


12 months

IDRC Officer

Singh, Navsharan

Total funding

CA$ 38,500


India, Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia

Project Leader

Padma Bhate Deosthali


Trustees of Anusandhan Trust

Institution Country


Institution Website