In this blog post, Pravesh Naveriya from RDVV, Jabalpur, talks about the steps you can take if you suffer harassment by in-laws.

The worst part of being harassed by in-laws is that the victim himself or herself feels that it is something that should not be discussed with anyone. This makes the situation even worse. One more wrong perception which ruins the situation is that it is only women who are being harassed but it is something which is not true. Even a man may be harassed by his in-laws.

Harassment of a Woman by Her In-laws

There are a number of means and ways through which a woman can be harassed by her in-laws. The harassment may be either by her husband or her mother-in-law or by any other in-laws. A woman can be harassed by:

  • Any conduct of the in-laws which forces a woman to commit suicide
  • Any conduct that would cause grave injury to a woman which includes domestic violence
  • Any conduct or demand of her in-laws either to her or to her parents or relatives regarding any property which is under the possession of her family (dowry demands)
  • Any conduct or demand of her in-laws regarding any amount of money as dowry either from her or from her parents or any relative
  • Any act which would amount to cruelty under the Indian Laws

What Would Amount to Cruelty

Cruelty may be either physical or mental. It is not necessary that to get justice against the in-laws a physical cruelty has to happen but a mental cruelty too would serve as a proper evidence to take a legal action against her in-laws. The acts which would amount to cruelty against a woman are:

  • Physical violence of any degree. It is not necessary to prove that the act was to kill or to cause grievous hurt. It is a sufficient evidence that any such violence is enough to initiate a legal action against her in-laws or her husband.
  • Any taunt, words or language used against the woman with the intention of causing mental torture.
  • Denying a woman from meeting or talking to her family.
  • Denying a woman to access her children.
  • Denial of food for a long interval of time intentionally.
  • Insisting her to have sexual intercourse when she does not want to.
  • Denying entry to a woman in her matrimonial house.
  • Denying her to interact socially and asking her to be at home all the time.
  • Threatening her to give divorce if she doesn’t follow the illegal or immoral orders given to her.
  • Abusing her children in front of her with the intention to cause mental torture.
  • Denying the paternity of her children in order to torture her mentally.

Suggested Reading: Why Mediation is Important in Divorce Cases

What Can be Done in Case of Harassment by In-laws

Most of the women in the country are unaware of these circumstances which would amount to cruelty and gives them a right to use a legal weapon against her in-laws. The provisions of law dealing with the harassment of a woman by her in-laws are Sections 498- A, 509, 304-B, 306, of the Indian Penal(IPC), the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
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Section 498-A, Indian Penal Code

This section covers the cruelty committed either by the husband or by any relative of the husband against a woman. The cruelty may be physical or mental. This is a provision of law which was created for the very purpose to protect a woman from any harassment which she becomes a victim of in her matrimonial home. This is commonly known as the dowry harassment act.

  • Cognizable
  • Non-Bailable
  • Non-Compoundable
  • Finable
  • Imprisonment up to 3 years

The worst thing about this Section is that it has a loophole which has given the cunning people of the society to use this as a tool to threaten a person and try to extort money from him and his family.

Section 509, Indian Penal Code

If any persons intend to insult the modesty of a woman through any phrases, words, act, or gesture shall be punished under this section. If the in-laws use any words or phrases or make any gesture against her or do any act either in her presence or to her shall be punishable under this section.

  • Cognizable
  • Bailable
  • Compoundable
  • Finable
  • Simple imprisonment up to 3 years

Section 304-B, Indian Penal Code

If a woman has died within 7 years from her marriage by some bodily injury or burns and there are evidence that supports that she was subjected to either physical or mental cruelty for any property or money for dowry either by her husband or by any of her in-laws, then the death shall be considered to be a “dowry death” and it is a punishable offence under this section.

  • Cognizable
  • Non-Bailable
  • Non-Compoundable
  • Non-Fineable
  • Imprisonment of more than 7 years which may extend to life imprisonment.

Section 306, Indian Penal Code

If a woman after becoming frustrated from the torture of her in-laws commits suicide then her in-laws shall be punished under this section. This section deals with the provisions for abetment of suicide, that is, if any person forces or helps another person to commit suicide then he shall be punishable under this section.

  • Cognizable
  • Non-Bailable
  • Non-Compoundable
  • Finable
  • Imprisonment for 10 years

Domestic Violence Act, 2005

The Domestic Violence Act is an Act which deals with the protection of women against domestic violence. The Act was passed with the motto to provide assistance to a woman when she is subjected to any kind of domestic violence. This Act also makes the government responsible to make sure that legal assistance is provided to the victim.

●     Section 17, Domestic Violence Act, 2005

If a woman is being subjected to domestic violence and she has filed a case against her in-laws regarding this, and for this very reason they are not willing to her with them in their house then she can an application under this section and after examining the application the court may give directions to her in-laws that she shall not be excluded from her matrimonial house.

●     Section 18, Domestic Violence Act, 2005

If a woman has been subjected to domestic violence and the court is satisfied after hearing both the parties, that such an act has happened or is likely to happen then the court may give directions to the respondents to prohibit to do certain acts under this section. The court may give directions to the respondents in favour of the aggrieved person and prohibit them from:

  • Further committing any act of domestic violence.
  • Helping or abetting or funding any act of domestic violence.
  • Disturbing or even entering the place where she works or any other place where she frequently visits..
  • Communicating the aggrieved person in any form or by any means
  • Alienating any asset which either is under the joint ownership of the aggrieved person and the respondent or under the private ownership of the respondent until the court don’t allow him to.
  • Causing harm to any person or relative of the aggrieved person who helped or supported during domestic violence.
  • Any other act as the court thinks fit or is requested by the aggrieved person.

Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961

The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 was passed with the motive to bring the immoral practice to end. The practice of dowry has been there in the country from ages, hence it is not easy to change the mindset of people, and this could have been done only by legislating a strict law against this practice. This act prohibits the accepting or demanding of dowry either from the wife or from her family.

Harassment of a Man by His In-laws

There is a misconception in the country that a man cannot be harassed by his in-laws. It is believed that it is always a man who is the accused in matters of domestic violence and harassment but it is not true. The Indian society is still not able to accept that a man can become a victim of harassment by his in-laws. Even a man can be harassed by his in-laws either in the form of domestic violence or harassing him mentally or physically. There are hardly any laws which deal with the harassment of a man.

However, ingenuity of lawyers can create some solutions in some specific situations.

Here are some of them:

  1. Filing a defamation case
  2. Filing a theft case
  3. Filing a criminal complaint for harassment
  4. Filing a criminal complaint for simple hurt or grievous hurt in case of physical violence

There are a number of other crimes for which both men or women can complain. Consult a lawyer and discuss your specific situation. Feel free to submit your case in to get some advice and get on a consultation call with a lawyer.


The harassment of a man or a woman by his or her in-laws is a topic which needs a lot of attention both by the legislative as well as by the common people. The legislative has made certain acts which deals with the matter but due to the fact that the common people are not able to accept that this is such an important issue to deal with.

The condition is even worse in the case of a man being harassed as there are hardly any laws which gives protection to a man against harassment. For this, there is a strict need to amend some of the acts and to bring man under the definition of a victim.

What are your views on this? Feel free to comment below & share the article.

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  1. My name is Susnata. I am married for 5 years.
    I am suffering from mental harassment by my mother in law. Most of the time she talks rudely with me, most of time taunt me & my parents regarding the things received by my families (as in lndian culture girls father have to give gifts to boys family). I feel depressed. This all happens when my fil & husband not around. So I tried to avoid her specially when I am alone. Even during my pregnancy, my husband bought BP machine as it was advised by doctors, she said why wasting money to buy this. I expected at least emotionally support me during that time. But nothing. My husband on my side., support me.
    He said ignore her. But I want at least she will know it’s emotionally hurt when she uses harsh word. Sometimes it’s unbearable for me. I don’t know what to do..?

  2. Hello, My name is Maya, I am suffering from mental torture from my in-laws, As I am married from 8 months, Not only torturing me but also my parents too. Abusing badly, talking very worst, doubting on my character(asking my relatives on call and disturbing them), threating to harm me (like Black magic or hypnotize me), also treating me for my life. As my husband is fickle-minded, he will believe his mother. I am scared to pick my in-laws to call. Slowly I am losing interest in the relationship, kindly help me , suggest me what i can do

  3. Ramya A ,
    It’s my wise advise you should leave each and every thing behind and concentrate on your baby only. I know it’s tough but u r a strong lady .. it’s very crucial time… they will never be yours but baby is in your womb is yours.. u can spend ur whole life with him/her happily….just try to concentrate on ur baby …. our stress badly affected our baby and sometimes it cause pain to her/him….

  4. I am 6 months pregnant now , from day one I had issues with my mother-in-law , she created huge distance between me and my husband now , this is second marriage for me and for him , eventhough they just want him to be their son alone .. in that case why they made him marry me I don’t know .. they were behind my dad for 1 month to say yes for this marriage and now they are playing with my life … mother in law abuses be with very bad words somuch and my husband knows everything but still he want me to adjust for those abuses just because she is aged .. how many time I need to adjust ?? It’s been 7 months of my marriage with him and I am 6 months pregnant now still they are harassing me ,now my father in law also started saying let me stay at my mom place and they just said we need our son to be ours we don’t care about ur daughter whether she is pregnant or not … his mom said she is just pregnant not any sick or hospitalalized patient ( when my dad said that she is pregnant and she may expect her husband to visit her and spend one or two days ) I am broken that my husband want his parents and he chosen them , then why he married me and why he needed baby very soon ?? I am having somany suicidal thoughts in my mind .. just controlling by seeing my baby scan reports and my baby bump .. please try to suggest me good suggestion as my husband doesn’t wanted to take me back home and he is purely listening to his mother that’s it … please help me and save my life along with my baby life ..

    • This is very unfortunate what happened with you. My sister is going through exactly same things which are happening with you. I suggest you to file a mental harassment case against your in-laws and your husband if he doesn’t supports you. Stay strong and don’t loose hope. Constitution is with you, you don’t need to worry. And most importantly, remember that a WOMAN DOESN’T NEED A MAN TO SURVIVE WITH HER CHILD. Stay strong.

  5. Yes, this is very unfortunate that there are no laws for men and even today (to what I have heard from people) that 90% of such cases are fake and just to defame/ harass men (husband or his family). It is very vital that the Indian Judicial system pays attention to this. I am myself a victim to such situation where my wife tortures me and my parents and sister enormously. Its been a decade now and since some time with the support of few people she threatens me to file a court case/police case against me and my family. I have a child and am very worried about his future. She does not even care for our child. In front of all, she acts to be nice and caring but actually she bits him a lot and abuses him a lot and if I confront, she threatens me for police case and money. I get so stressed that I even get suicidal thoughts due to this. I cannot see the plight of my parents – when their current age is 77 and 69. We all just pray that she becomes a good person. She does not even want to separate and says that if want to separate then I will file a police case, will not sign to divorce and happily live with the alimony. I am in a very pitiable situation where cannot do anything… feel very helpless! God save us!

  6. I am being harrassed by my in laws they do not want my husband to be with me they have physically tried to harm me as well as slandered my name and constantly keeps begging my husband for money which he gives to them out of our bill money causing us to go hungry and without being able to pay our bills we have moved time after time because of them I am tired of living like we are poor when we could live comfortably if it wasn’t for them they are all very grown and feel that he should provide for them instead They will not let up it gets worst as time goes by ?

  7. Hi this is Satya… Day to day my in-laws are harassing me mentally I had totally got feed up with their all those fake things I just wanted to finish my life so I committed suicide.. but she made a copy of my suicide letter and just telling them I had made this attempt to threaten them…and I had done this for a simple issue… She is too talented that she can convince anyone in her favor they are in high positions and well settled family… I’m not up to any of that level.. my parents are poor… She is asking a letter from me to enter into that house and to stay with my husband in which I have to write “if anything happen to me no one has to blame them I’m total responsible to whatever happens to me ” like that… I don’t know what to do now… I’m mentally Disturbed and depressed… Pls someone help me with this plzzz….

    • Dear Satya don’t be afraid… they people only manipulate u and me but they never manipulate court… so be confident …. why r u living in hell … I can understand that it’s really tough to stay with them but first of all believe in yourself and u may also contact women cell also …. live with pride… u know what our life is very beautiful don’t end just for maintaining marital status….

  8. See, the simple, natural logic is that if there are no laws to protect me, I do not have to recognise any laws that protect others. If harm can come to me without fear of the law (because proper laws don’t exist for me), harm can come to anyone in the country. I wish to urge the legal fraternity in the country and all citizens to kindly take due steps to bring about laws that also protect men. In fact, the same laws that protect women should be equally applicable to protecting men. Until that happens, I am unable to seriously believe in the efficacy of the judiciary of the country.

    Men and women are both God’s creations, and any laws for the one should be equally applicable to the other.

    You guys in the legal fraternity pride yourself on equality and such high-octane stuff. But in reality, where’s the equality if a person cannot properly protect himself? Kindly advise me if I am missing something, which I think I am not, at present.

  9. My name is Neelam I am also suffering from mental harrasment by my husband. I have completed my 7 years in marriage but there is no change inhis behaviour, He is alcoholic. he drinks on regular basis and shouts on me. beats me in front of people say curse words in front of my kids. because of him I am suffering from psycological problems. Kindly guide me what should I do???


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