If you thought that Generation Y Indian men considered women equals and didn’t try to control their wives by battering them or forcefully having sex with them, think again. A six-state study has found that physical and sexual violence is widely prevalent among married youth.
Eighteen to 30 per cent of married women aged 15 to 24 reported physical abuse by their husbands at least once. Fifteen to 24 per cent of the 13,912 women surveyed had experienced violence in the last 12 months, according to the study, which was jointly conducted by the Population Council in Delhi and the International Institute for Population Sciences in Mumbai. Bihar recorded highest prevalence of physical violence and Rajasthan the lowest.
In sexual violence, too, Bihar was the worst: 54 per cent of women reported sexual abuse by their husbands and 49 per cent said they were forced to have sex on the wedding night.
The situation wasn’t any better in Rajasthan and Jharkhand. Forty per cent of women said they had experienced sexual violence and over 30 per cent reported forced sex on the first night.
Researcher Rajib Acharya presented the findings at a conference on ‘Gender-based violence’ here on Tuesday.
The researchers also interviewed 8,052 married men, aged 15 to 29 from urban and rural parts of Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. While the men’s responses almost matched women’s for physical violence, they differed on sexual violence. Only 9 to 25 per cent men admitted to sexual violence as against 10 to 54 per cent women.
The study also found that physical violence began early in marriage for many women and Maharashtra topped the charts in this. Fourteen per cent of the women said they had been abused in the first year of marriage and 18 per cent said they were beaten repeatedly in the last 12 months.
SNDT University director and women’s activist Vibhuti Patel said, “At least 200 women are referred to the crisis centre at Bhabha Hospital every month after being physically or sexually abused. Husbands are often the perpetrators.”