More sexual violence in marriages than records show,study finds

A recent study on violence in marriage has shown that while most men openly admit to physical violence sexual violence is highly underreported.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published:February 19, 2009 1:17 am

A recent study on violence in marriage has shown that while most men openly admit to physical violence sexual violence is highly underreported. Maharashtra fares ‘average’ when it comes to physical and sexual violence in marriage.

The study by the International Institute of Population Science in Mumbai and Population Council in Delhi was undertaken for the first time in India. Six Indian states—Bihar,Jharkhand,Rajasthan,Andhra Pradesh,Maharashtra and Tamil Naidu— were chosen to conduct the study. As part of this,women (aged 15-24),were interviewed on physical and sexual violence in their marriage. Men (aged 15-29) were interviewed on perpetration of physical and sexual violence within marriage. The study also looked at factors associated with violence in a marriage.

Over 300 Public Sector Undertaking in each state,150 each in rural and urban areas,were selected using multi-stage systematic random sampling. Women and men were interviewed separately. The findings in the study are based on 8,052 married men and 13,912 married women. Twenty seven per cent of the 1,947 married women from Maharashtra said that they were victims of physical violence by their husbands. Also 23 percent of the same women claimed that they were subject to physical violence recently. Maharashtra shared the second place with Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu when it came to physical violence experienced by women in marriages. Bihar (30 per cent) was by far ahead. Rajasthan recorded the lowest prevalence (18% and 15% for lifetime and recent violence respectively). According to the study,women in Maharashtra reported highest incidence of violence within first year of marriage with 14 percent (of those part of the study) as compared to an average 9 to 7 per cent in other states. Twenty one per cent of the men agreed to the same.

While the men and women agreed on physical violence and its first occurrence,wide differences were recorded in perception of frequency of the same in all states. While 18 per cent of women in Maharashtra reported frequent physical violence only five percent of the men admitted to it. “We have found that women who showed resistance to their husbands were subject to more violence,” said S J Jejeebhoy,senior associate,Population Council.

There were wide regional variations observed in extent of sexual violence. More young women in eastern and northern regions reported sexual violence compared to their counterparts in the west and south. Many women from Maharashtra reported forced sex by husbands on first night (23%) where as only four per cent of the men reported the same. Bihar reported the highest number of cases whereas Andhra Pradesh recorded the lowest.

“There is a need to make violence a health issue,” said Dr Donta Balaiah,National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health.

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