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Is husband justified in beating the wife? Survey has telling responses

Responses to the question, “In your opinion, is a husband justified in hitting or beating his wife...,” from as many as 18 states and Jammu and Kashmir are telling.

Written by Rupsa Chakraborty | Mumbai |
Updated: November 27, 2021 10:29:42 am
Of the women surveyed, Telangana led with 83.8 per cent of them saying that men are justified to beat their wives; Himachal Pradesh registered the lowest at 14.8 per cent.

A falling fertility rate and a surge in their bank accounts point to the growing empowerment of women but when it comes to attitudes regarding domestic violence, the latest National Family Health Survey shows the distance that needs to be travelled.

Responses to the question, “In your opinion, is a husband justified in hitting or beating his wife…,” from as many as 18 states and Jammu and Kashmir are telling.

Of the women surveyed, Telangana led with 83.8 per cent of them saying that men are justified to beat their wives; Himachal Pradesh registered the lowest at 14.8 per cent. Among men, Karnataka leads with 81.9 per cent of the respondents saying such behaviour is justified as against 14.2 per cent in Himachal Pradesh.

The survey asked the question and then listed the “following (seven) situations” as reason to hit or beat the wife: If she goes out without telling him; if she neglects the house or the children; if she argues with him; if she refuses to have sex with him; if she doesn’t cook food properly; if he suspects her of being unfaithful; if she shows disrespect for in-laws.

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According to the survey, the most common reasons cited to justify domestic abuse: showing disrespect to in-laws, neglecting the house and children.

Data pertaining to surveys held in 2019-21 was released Wednesday. These were conducted in Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura and West Bengal.

The other states which have a high percentage of women who justify domestic violence are Andhra Pradesh (83.6 per cent), Karnataka (76.9 per cent), Manipur (65.9 per cent) and Kerala (52.4 per cent). Men from Himachal Pradesh and Tripura had the lowest acceptance of domestic abuse with only 14.2 per cent, 21.3 per cent respondents agreeing.

Data from the NFHS-4 (2015-2016) for the entire country released in January 2018 said that while 52 per cent of women surveyed believed it was reasonable for a husband to beat his wife, only 42 per cent of men agreed with it.

In the latest survey, of the 18 states, women respondents in 13 — Manipur, Gujarat, Nagaland, Goa, Bihar, Assam, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Nagaland, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and West Bengal — chose ‘disrespect to in-laws’ as the main reason for justifying beating.

This is followed by the second option: ‘neglecting house and children’ for accepting spouse violence. ‘Being suspected of being unfaithful’ has got the least number of justifications for beating. Only women (21%) in Mizoram choose it as the main reason for physical abuse over the other two options.

Sharada A L, director of Population First, an NGO working for women rights, said: “This kind of patriarchal mentality is deeply imbibed in the minds of the women who think that serving their family and husband should be their first priority.”

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