Dalit women are top victims of domestic violence; more women justify husband beating wife than men: GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India (GoI) report, likely to create a major flutter among sociologists, women's rights activists and feminists, as also those claiming to be Dalit and tribal rights activists, has said that a whopping 24.6% scheduled caste (SC) women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence during the 12 months preceding a survey carried out to ascertain empowerment issues they face.
Suggesting that is the highest among all communities, the report reveals, 18.9% of scheduled tribe (ST) women experienced physical violence, which is the next highest, followed by other backward classes (OBCs) 21.1%. Data in the report further show that 12.8% Hindus, categorised as "Others", presumably other than SC, ST and OBC, experienced violence, which is lower compared to Muslims and Christians, both 14.9%, and Sikhs 14.4%.
Just about 11.8% Buddhist or neo-Buddhist women experienced violence, and even lower percentage of Jain women (8.7%) experienced violence, says the chapter on domestic violence in the 666-page report, "National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) 2015-16". Buddhists and neo-Buddhists are mostly SCs who decided to give up Hinduism, and are mostly ardent followers of Dr BR Ambedkar, who led first wave of Dalit conversion into Buddhism.
What should be equally a matter of further investigation is, a higher percentage of women in the age 15-49 "agree that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife" for any of the five reasons specified in the report: She goes out without telling him; she neglects the house or children; she argues with him; she refuses to have sexual intercourse with him; she doesn't cook properly; he suspects she is unfaithful; and she shows disrespect for in-laws.
Thus, 51.7% women and 42.2% men justify the hitting or beating of wife, the data show. Interesting though it may seem, among Hindu groups, SC men are more vociferous in justifying violence against women. Thus, it is 46.2% SCs, followed by 44.5 OBCs, 43.3% STs, and 35.2% "Others". Religion-wise, the details show that Christians top the list with 51.6% men justifying violence, followed by 43.14% Muslims, Hindus 41.9%, and Sikhs 35.4%.
Ironically, women, cutting across caste and religion, are found to be more vociferous in "agreeing" that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife for any of the "specified" five reasons included the survey. Thus, it is 55.7% SC women, followed by 53.9 OBC women, 50.2% ST women, and 45.6% "Others". The religion-wise figures show a similar pattern: It's 56.9% Christian women, followed by 54.1% Muslim women, 51.5% Hindu women, and 31.9% Sikh women.
Taking an overall view, the report says,12% of women reported being "pushed, shaken, or having something thrown at them; 10% reported having their arm twisted or hair pulled; and 8% each reported being punched with the fist or with something that could hurt them or being kicked, dragged, or beaten up. 2%of women reported that their husband tried to choke or burn them on purpose and 1% reported that their husband had threatened or attacked them with a knife, gun, or other weapon."
"The form of sexual violence most commonly reported by women was that their husband used physical force to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to (5%); 4% reported that their husband forced them with threats or in other ways to perform sexual acts they did not want to; and 3% reported that their husband forced them to perform other sexual acts they did not want to".

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
This is a surprising revelation. I would not have believed it if I had read it anywhere else