Over 30% women suffered violence by their spouses in five states: NFHS survey

Over 30% women suffered violence by their spouses in five states: NFHS survey

New Delhi: Over 30 per cent women suffered physical and sexual violence by their spouses in five out of 20 surveyed states and Union territories in the country, according to the National Family Health Survey-5, with activists and NGOs fearing its further rise in view of COVID-19 pandemic.

The five states are Karnataka, Assam, Mizoram, Telangana and Bihar. The survey was conducted in 6.1 lakh sample households, involving household-level interviews, to collect information on population, health, family planning and nutrition related indicators.

About 44.4 per cent women aged 18-49 years experienced domestic violence by their spouses in Karnataka, the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) said. Under NFHS-4 (2015-16), 20.6 per cent women in the state had said that they faced spousal violence. About 40 per cent women in Bihar, 39 per cent in Manipur, 36.9 per cent in Telangana, 32 per cent in Assam and 30 per cent in Andhra Pradesh suffered spousal physical and sexual violence, the data showed.

A total of seven states and UTs out of the 22 surveyed reported an increase in domestic violence faced by women aged 18-49 years in NFHS-5 as compared to NFHS-4.

These seven states/UTs include Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

In nine states/UTs, there was an increase in the percentage of women aged 18-29 years who said that they faced sexual violence by the age of 18, the data said. These places are Assam, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Meghalaya, Sikkim, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Activists and NGOs have attributed the high percentage of women suffering from domestic violence to low rate of literacy, high consumption of alcohol, among others.

Poonam Muttreja, Public Health Expert and Executive Director of Population Foundation of India, said the increase in spousal violence which has come to light in the major states is very disturbing as it suggests a culture of violence prevalent across regions.

"India as a society has been rooted in patriarchy practiced over decades which encourages domestic violence," Muttreja said. "According to NFHS-4, 31 per cent of ever-married women had experienced physical, sexual or emotional spousal violence. As is evident from the newly released NFHS-5 data, the situation has got further exacerbated since the last survey. The fact that this data is from the pre-COVID-19 era shows that a pandemic of violence was prevalent much before COVID-19 and its ramifications unfolded," she said.

Women rights activist Shamina Shafiq said the government needs to talk strongly about domestic violence.

"Unfortunately, a man feels it is his right to beat a woman and he enjoys the fact that he is the one in control of the life of another person. Even today the government is unable to talk about how bad it is to subject any person to violence. There should be writing on the wall that spousal violence is wrong," she said.

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