UN and Domestic Violence in India – 2

In a June 2000 report UNICEF, in its ‘Innocent Digest ‘publication on domestic violence against women and children projected domestic violence as widespread issue in every country.  They reported the following –

In industrialized countries like Canada (29%), Japan (59%), New Zealand (20%), Switzerland (20%), UK (25%) and USA (28%) women ‘reported being physically assaulted by their current or former partner’.

India – this report says “More than 45% married men acknowledged physically abusing their wives”.

This report shows many factors attributing to the domestic violence against women and confers the onus to curb any such violation on the state.

This report again fails to look at the issue of domestic violence from gender neutral perspective and blames the husband and his family for all intimate partner violence. Thus this study completely ignored the fact that even men may need protection from domestic violence by their abusive partners.

In 2012, researchers from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, tried finding out truth of domestic violence in India. In its report titled “Inventory of United Nations system activities to prevent and eliminate violence against women” they have standardized the definition of Intimate Partner Violence as – “Physical, Sexual or Psychological harm by a current or former spouse or partner”.

Even though they have used a gender neutral term to define the domestic violence these researchers also concentrated their effort on DV on women and tried to project their husbands / boyfriends as responsible for all domestic violence.

Let’s look at the data presented in this study to conclude that husband is the abuser. In table 1 on page 142 of the online journal it shows the following figures–

1. In Delhi, 350 women aged 15-49 was surveyed and 42.8% reported one/other type of violence and 29.1% reported such violence in last one yr. (Vachher et al 2010). – *Please note, that the data of 35 years of one’s lifespan is considered to conclude domestic violence. I am sure if the same survey can be done with husbands, we will get a similar figure.

2.       In Bangalore, out of 744 married women between 16-25 years were surveyed, and 56% ‘ever experienced physical domestic violence’ and 27% reported domestic violence in last 6 months (Roca et al 2009). – *Again, the data is captured only for women. Similar effort was not done for husbands.

3.       From Orissa, Bihar, WB, Jharkhand states a sample of 1718 and 1715 married women and men respectively the lifetime occurrence figures were, 13.2%, NA, 14.6% and 21.1% respectively. Overall prevalence of any kind of violence in eastern India is shown as high as 56% for Jharkhand. – *here again the study took figure for lifetime violence against women, meaning this can’t be attributed to husbands alone. Also the similar figure is not available for abuse of men.

4.       Koeng et al in 2006 reported physical violence and coercive sexual intercourse for one’s lifetime in around 32% married women in UP. – *So even one incidence in one lifespan would have been reported here as violence.

5.       Kumar et al. in 2005, surveyed 9938 women of the age group 15-49 years, and 40% of them reported any violence in their marriage. – *so even one violence in one’s 35 years (15 – 49 yrs) marriage is reported here. Is this really significant and worth reporting?

6.       Martin et al in 1999, surveyed 6700 married men and found that 18-45% of them physically abused their wives and 4-9% admitted forcing their wives for sex. – Not sure about the range given in the data, hope the authors will have better explanation. *Here too irrespective of their age group even if the man has forced his wife once in his marital life is reported. One can argue that if the same question is asked to the wife of how many times she would have forced the man to have sex in her lifetime, we would have got same response.

From the above analysis we can find that in ALL the surveys, the researchers tried to find a solution to a problem that is gender neutral in nature, in a gender biased way. Also even going by the traditional definition of beating a wife is considered to term an act as domestic violence, then why should the same be not termed as DV when the wife does the same? If today, media, NCW and various TV programs portray husband as wife beater and in India 40% of wives are beaten by their husbands, that doesn’t mean that this 40% is getting beaten every now and then. This only means, as various study suggests that they were beaten up in their marital lifetime (that may be as high as 35 years). Similar data was not taken for husbands to see how many of them were subjected to violence by their own wife or how many times their wife has forced them for sex.

It is also shocking to note that this bias exist in all studies including the studies done by various UN groups, NGOs and also the latest one by All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Even though all of them considered a gender neutral definition of Domestic Violence, all of them concluded as wife being the sole victim and husband the sole abuser in a domestic relationship.

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