BHUBANESHWAR: As many as 59.2 per cent women and 40.8 per cent men in Odisha agree that wife-beating is justified for at least one of the reasons that include disrespect for in-laws, argument with husband, going out without information, neglecting house and children, not cooking properly, refusal to have sex and husband suspects her of being unfaithful.
The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data shows that 52.1 per cent women feel a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife if she disrespects her in-laws while 32.6 per cent women are in favour of wife-beating if she argues with her husband.
Although urban and educated persons are less likely to agree with wife-beating, the characteristics are not sufficient to supplant beliefs in gender equality norms. About 46 per cent educated women, 63 per cent working women, 57.4 per cent unemployed women and 64.3 per cent illiterate women support it.
According to NFHS-4 even as 12 per cent married women feel wife-beating is justified if she refuses to have sex with him, only six per cent men think so. But 85 per cent men do not favour any kind of violence or resistance if wife refuses to have sex with her husband, which is a positive indicator in comparison to other States.
Surprisingly, the specific attitude towards wife-beating has hardly seen any major shift in the past one decade as the NFHS-3 conducted in 2005-06 indicated that 61.2 per cent women and 41.6 percent men supported wife-beating.
The survey was conducted by Mumbai-based International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS). An IIPS researcher Dr Manas Pradhan said the figures are worrisome since three-fifth of women support wife-beating for obvious reasons.
“The data shows how women in the State perceive their gender role in the society. Though some of the reasons should not be justified, but the women are favouring means they are socialised in such way that they belive these are normal. It is a reflection of our existing perceived gender role,” he pointed out.
The family survey also found that 34.8 per cent women in the State are subjected to physical or sexual violence. While 87.8 per cent husbands are responsible for committing physical violence on their wives, 98 per cent husbands have committed sexual violence. The data shows about three per cent women have experienced violence during pregnancy and it is more prevalent in rural areas.
Dr Pradhan said these figures underline the need for undertaking both legal and social reforms to deal with the menace of sexual violence by husbands against their wives. Regular awareness and required legal reforms by the Government would definitely help reduce it, he added.