Introduction: Wife-battering has not been adequately studied from a medico-legal aspect in Sri Lanka. This study was carried out to describe the types of abuses as well as to explore the consequences, management strategies and impact on criminal justice system.
Methods: Adescriptive study involving 4838 Medico-Legal Examination Forms (MLEFs) reported to a tertiary care hospital in Colombo from January 2011 to December 2012 was conducted. Out of 4838 MLEFs, 116 reports of wife battering were studied. The judicial responses of all cases were studied from relevant police records.
Results: Forty one percent of victims were less than 30 years of age. Majority (87%) had faced repeated incidents. All had been abused verbally and psychologically. All had physical, psychological or sexual consequences. Majority (60%) had head injuries. Eighty seven percent were non-grievous injuries. Twenty eight percent who directly reported to hospital, refused informing police. The judicial responses were completed in all except two attempted murder cases.
Conclusions: Wife-battering is not uncommon in Sri Lanka and many have faced repeated events. The pattern of injuries and their consequences are significant and the vigilance of clinicians is needed to identify them. The victim's choice in taking legal action should be retained. Activation of criminal justice system was mainly based on interpretation of injuries.