Bihar has the dubious distinction of being the state with the highest number of women having been beaten by their husbands. What's worse, many women in the state find nothing wrong with what is a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code and the Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act of 2004.
These are the findings of the latest National Family Health Survey-III, covering the period 2005-2006 for the entire country and 2006-2007 for Bihar.
According to the survey, 59% of women in Bihar have been beaten by their husbands and 32% of women find such abuse justified if a woman argues with her spouse, shows disrespect to her in-laws or is suspected of having an extra-marital relationship.
More than half the surveyed adults in the age group of 15-49 (57%) believe it is justified for a husband to beat his wife under specific circumstances.
The survey found Himachal Pradesh, with 6%, reporting the least number of women being beaten by their husbands. Delhi, Kerala, J&K ranked among the 'best' five states with the incidence of violence against wives ranging between 13% and 16%.
The 'worst' states were Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, with the incidence ranging between 40% and 46%.
The survey found that in Bihar, the perpetration of physical, sexual and emotional violence against women cut across demographic categories.
If 66% of males in the lowest wealth index scales had perpetrated violence on their wives, those in the highest wealth index were not far behind at 56%. Wife beating in middle class homes stood at 55%.
The survey found nuclear families were likely to record more widespread violence, with 63% women saying they were victims of domestic violence.