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Six out of 10 Indian men admit violence against wives - U.N. study

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Six out of 10 Indian men admit to having perpetrated violence against their wives or partners, with men who experienced discrimination as children or faced financial stresses more likely to be abusive, said a study released on Monday.

A bride and groom attend a mass wedding ceremony in New Delhi February 15, 2014. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files

The report - by the United Nations World Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Washington-based International Center for Research on Women - polled 9,205 men, aged 18 to 49, across seven states in India to understand their views on masculinity, partner violence and son preference.

Violence was defined as emotional such as insults, intimidation and threats, or physical and sexual such as pushing, punching and rape. It also included economic abuse in which a man did not permit his wife or partner to work or took her earnings against her will.

“Many men in India act in a manner that is fairly predetermined by their gendered roles and expectations, socio-economic characteristics and childhood experiences,” said the “Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference” report.

“Men who experience economic stress were more likely to have perpetrated violence ever or in the past 12 months. This may be because of norms related to masculinity, which reinforce the expectation that men are primary economic providers for their households.”

The study - across the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra - found that men who had experienced discrimination as children were four times more likely to be violent towards their partners.

The highest reports of violence came from Odisha and Uttar Pradesh, said the report, with more than 70 percent of men in these regions admitting to being abusive towards their wives and partners.

More than 38 percent of all crimes committed against women in India in 2013 were those registered under the charge of cruelty by husband or his relatives, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Such crimes make up the largest proportion of crimes against women in the country - with 118,866 cases of cruelty by husband or his family reported from a total of 309,546, says the NCRB.


The study, which also polled 3,158 women, said more than half - 52 percent - of women said they had experienced some form of violence during their lifetime.

Physical abuse such as being kicked, slapped, choked and burned was the most commonly reported, with 38 percent of women saying they had faced such abuse. This was followed by emotional, sexual and economic violence respectively.

The reason less women reported being victims than men reported being violent was a feeling of shame or fear of social stigma, said the report. They may have also believed such acts were normal in a relationship and expected men to exert some control on their lives, it added.

Women who were discriminated against as children were three to six times more likely to experience violence.

“Women who experienced and observed discrimination or violence growing up are more likely to justify it as adults and may therefore not resist circumstances that may trigger intimate partner violence,” the report said.

The head of UNFPA in India, Frederika Meijer, said that this research into the causes of violence would help to structure programmes to engage men and boys more effectively.

“It identifies triggers that could enable them to become change agents in addressing gender discrimination,” Meijer said at the launch of the report on the sidelines of the MenEngage conference aimed at getting men involved in gender equality.