In a rather shocking and rather frightful outcome of a national survey, 30% of women from 14 states and union territories who took part in the survey justified domestic violence against women and girls. According to data collected by National Family Health Survey (NFHS) -5, women from Telangana (84%), Andhra Pradesh (84%), and Karnataka (77%) said that men were justified in beating their wives if they did not look after their in-laws ‘well,’ refused to have sex, neglected their children, did not do housework properly and on suspicion of seeing another man.
Also, women respondents from states like Manipur (66%), Kerala (52%), Jammu and Kashmir (49%), Maharashtra (44%), and West Bengal (42%) felt men were justified in beating their wives. The question posed by NFHS was – In your opinion, is a husband justified in hitting or beating his wife? And to this, more than 30% of women from 14 states and UTs said ‘yes.’
In fact, in Telangana, where many women respondents felt it was okay for a husband to beat his wife, the number of cases of domestic violence spiked during the pandemic. As the abuser is of an aggressive personality, living in limited spaces has given rise to this spike. Many women approached SHE teams directly or called 100 to talk about their grievances.
However, during the NFHS survey, Telangana had 84% respondents who felt it was okay for a husband to beat his wife. Women respondents in Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Gujarat, Nagaland, Goa, Bihar, Karnataka, Assam, Maharashtra, Telangana, Nagaland, and West Bengal said that being disrespectful to in-laws can be a reason for a husband to beat his wife.
About 81.09% of men from Karnataka justified beating their wives as compared to 14.2% in Himachal Pradesh.
According to Amita Pitre, lead specialist, gender justice, Oxfam India, the survey highlights the existing gender norms in society. She says all the respondents have answered in accordance with how they ‘felt’ as to how women should behave in society. Pitre says that women have to move away from abusive men if gender-based violence against women has to stop.