Six Out of 10 Indian Men Admit Violence Against Wives, Preference for Sons

November 29, 2014

A recent study shows that 60 percent of Indian men admit to having perpetrated violence against their wives or partners, while 52 percent of Indian women admit having faced some form of violence during their lifetime.

The report, “Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India,” prepared jointly by the United Nations World Population Fund (UNFPA) and the International Center for Research on Women, was conducted in seven Indian states of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. It involved over 9,000 men and over 3,000 women aged 18-49.

Physical abuse such as being kicked, slapped, choked and burned was most commonly reported—nearly 38 percent of women said they had faced such abuse.

The study findings emphasize that in India, masculinity, men’s controlling behavior and biased gender attitudes have a significant impact on men’s preference for sons over daughters, as well as their proclivity for violence towards an intimate partner.

According to the report, the reason less women reported being victims than men reported perpetrating violence was because of feelings of shame or fear of social stigma. Women may have also believed violent acts were normal in a relationship.

The study underscores the need to develop and implement national policies and programs that involve men in promoting gender equity and diminishing socio-cultural and religious practices that reinforce gender discrimination.

“To eliminate intimate partner violence and son preference, it is critical that we develop national policies and programmes that promote dialogue between women and girls as well as men and boys to shift harmful gender norms that perpetuate violence and discrimination,” the report stated.

Violence against women and girls cuts across borders of wealth, class, religion and race. It happens everywhere – at home and at work, on the streets and in schools, during peacetime and in conflict. Violence against women is a pervasive human rights violation, a public health crisis, and an obstacle to equality, development, security and peace.  The World Health Organization estimates that at least one of every three women globally will be beaten, raped or otherwise abused during her lifetime. In most cases, the abuser is a member of her own family. Compounding this issue is the fact that 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime, and men can often act with impunity.

International and regional legal instruments have clarified the obligations of States to prevent, eradicate and punish violence against women and girls. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) requires that countries party to the Convention take all appropriate steps to end violence. Yet, given the ubiquity of violence against women and girls demonstrates that  these human rights violations have yet  to be actionably addressed.

During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence (Nov. 25 – Dec. 10) and throughout the year with our programs, we seek to end violence against women globally with the hope that anyone with knowledge of abuse – women, men, children – will have the courage to stand up and speak out against it.

Learn More

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence 
Gender Discrimination
No Silence on Violence Against Women
Building Alliances for Advocacy in India
One Billion Rising: Demanding An End To Violence Against WomenCelebrating Girls: They Conquer the World