Over half of Indian women say wife-beating justified

NEW DELHI, Reuters

More than half of Indian women believe that wife-beating can be justified under certain circumstances, a survey on population and health published this week said.

The survey of 90,000 women across the country — conducted by the International Institute for Population Sciences at the initiative of the Health Ministry — found that about 56 percent endorsed wife-beating on at least one of six grounds.

“Since this topic is sensitive and women may be reluctant to report domestic violence, these results may underestimate the extent of domestic violence,” a report on the survey said.

“Possible reasons include a ‘culture of silence’ surrounding domestic violence, fear and different perceptions among women about what constitutes violence.”

Forty percent of women agreed that wife-beating was justified for neglecting the house or children, and 37 percent felt that going out without informing their husbands constituted a valid reason.

Thirty-four percent felt that beatings were justified for showing disrespect to in-laws and 33 percent said that suspicion of infidelity were acceptable grounds.

Wife-beating for inadequate dowry and improper cooking was also seen as an acceptable reason for violence by some of the women surveyed. The National Family Health Survey found that 20 percent of women had been beaten or physically mistreated since the age of 15, most commonly by the husband.

The survey found that while views on wife-beating were uniform across categories of age and marital duration, there was a divergence of views according to levels of education and between urban and rural women.