23% women in Maharashtra saying their husbands had forced sex

MUMBAI: Women in Maharashtra are not much safer than those in Bihar. Worryingly, danger lurks not just in the dark alleys, but within the four walls of their homes. An extensive study of domestic violence conducted across six states showed that nearly 27% of the women surveyed in Maharashtra were beaten up, dragged or kicked by their husbands at some point in their married life. This figure is a close second only to Bihar where 30% reported similar violence.

The study conducted by the International Institute for Population Sciences, Govandi, and the Population Council India, Delhi, included interviews with 8,052 married men and 13,912 married women in the 15 to 29 age group.

“Violence was reported not just in illiterate homes, but the experience shockingly touched both working and non-working, urban and rural women equally,” says Usha Ram of the IIPS.

The torture for some begins early on, with 23% women in Maharashtra saying their husbands had forced sex with them on the wedding night itself. Another 14% interviewees in the state admitted to having experienced violence in the first year of marriage. This percentage is the highest among all the six states covered-Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, AP and Tamil Nadu.

Not surprisingly, men who were interviewed perceived a much lower incidence of violence against women.

Another researcher, Rajib Acharya from the Population Council, pointed out that sexual violence too was common; 27% of women interviewed in Maharashtra were sexually abused in their marriages. The report on the research, initiated in 2005 and concluded in May 2008, was released on Tuesday.

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Gynaecologist Rekha Daver substantiated the findings saying a smaller pilot study she conducted in the J J Hospital in 2008 showed that not just domestic violence, 20% of the 100 women patients interviewed admitted to experiencing violence in office or on the road. Stressing that violence is unacceptable, Daver advised, “Women must first register their protest. Subsequently, there are voluntary organisations or the social department in police stations which can protect women.”

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