Over a year has passed since the coming into effect of a law against domestic violence in India, but a new UNICEF report has found that over 50 per cent of Indian women still justify the beating of a wife by her husband.
Fifty-four percent of Indian girls and women aged between 15 and 49 said that a husband or partner is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances.
The data is based on household surveys conducted in 2005, and it shows a marginal change in the attitude, as a similar survey in 2000 showed that 56 per cent of Indian women justified wife bashing.
In contrast only 23 percent Nepalese women and 25 per cent Indonesian women justified wife bashing by their male partners.
"In the context of gender inequality, women's response to abuse reflects their relatively fewer options to change or leave the relationship and their assessment of how best to protect themselves and their children," the UNICEF report titled 'Progress for Children' stated.
India ranks 25 in the list of 57 countries where such surveys were conducted, and Mali tops the list with 89 per cent of the country's women folk justifying the beating of a wife by her male partners under certain circumstances.
The circumstances enlisted in the UNICEF report are: Wife neglects the children, wife goes out without telling her husband, wife argues with her husband, wife refuses sex with husband, and wife burns the food.
While 50 per cent of the respondents in the 57 countries surveyed said that a husband is justified in hitting his wife for at least one of the above reasons, 36 per cent of women said that if a wife neglects the children, he is justified in beating her.
Only, 19 per cent of the respondents said that if a wife refuses to have sex with her husband and burns food, he could beat his wife.
However, it was also found in the survey that 56 per cent of girls aged between 15 and 19 years responded that wife beating is justified, while 49 percent of older women above 45 years of age justified it.
"Ending domestic violence requires changing attitudes that permit such abuse, developing legal and policy frameworks to prohibit and reject it, and improving women's access to economic resources and girls' access to education," the report concluded.