Wife Beating, The Indian Connection

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Wife beating is common enough phenomena in the world. One of course does not hear of husband beating, but wife beating is very much there. In the West where there is the liberated woman, cases of wife beating have been reported. But one salient facet of these episodes in the West is that, in case a wife reports such a case to the local police or administrative authority the follow up is swift and the culprit hauled up in court. Thus wife beating in the west is to an extant reined in.

Wife Beating in India

In India the reverse is the case. Though wife beating is an offense and so recorded in the statute books yet the implementation of this law is to the say the least tardy. The wife beating phenomena is fairly common in rural India, where the women as yet are not fully aware of their rights. But the sad part is that many of these women who are beaten in rural India find nothing wrong with this beating which is punishable under the Indian Penal code and the Protection of women from Domestic Violence act 2004. I have known a woman thrased in the village for some misdeamenour and yet the other women felt she ‘deserved’ it

Perhaps this acceptance of beating is rooted in culture of centuries as after the invasions by the Moslems the women were reduced to seclusion and complete subseverience to man. Out of the Indian states Bihar has the dubious distinction of being the state with the highest number of wives having been beaten by their husbands. These are the findings of the latest National Family Health Survey II covering the period of 2005-06 for the entire country and 2006 -07 for Bihar.

Survey on Wife Beating

According to this survey 59% of women in Bihar have at some point of time been beaten by their husbands and 32% of women find such abuse justified if a woman argues with her husband or shows disrespect to her in-laws. Extra marital relationships will also invite a beating which the women feel is justified. Perhaps this thinking is rooted in the mind set which had been conditioned by centuries of the subjugation of the woman in relation to the male.

The survey found that the least number of women getting beaten are in Delhi, Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir. Here the ratio is about 13-16%. But Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were worse off. Here the incidence of wife beating was between 40-46%.

The wife beating phenomena is perhaps not unique to India and African societies have also reported this activity. Perhaps it is a hangover of a primitive culture and it will take some time to go away. At least not in our life time.


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