In a spine-chilling revelation, the National Family Health Survey brought out data based on a survey that says over 30 percent of women suffered sexual and physical violence by their spouses in five out of 20 surveyed states and Union territories in the country. The five states are Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Mizoram, and Telangana.
The survey was carried out in 6.1 lakh sample households, including household-level interviews, to gather information on population, family planning, health along with nutrition-related indicators.
Around 44.4 percent of women in the age group of 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 percent of women in the southern state had said that they faced spousal violence. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, experts fear a spike in it.
The survey data shows that about 40 percent of women in Bihar, 39 percent in Manipur, 36.9 percent in Telangana, 32 percent in Assam, and 30 percent in Andhra Pradesh suffered spousal physical and sexual violence. Moreover, out of the 22 surveyed a total of seven states and UTs reported a spike in domestic violence faced by women aged 18-49 years in NFHS-5 in comparison to NFHS-4.
NGOs and activists have ascribed the high percentage of women suffering from domestic violence to high consumption of alcohol, low rate of literacy, among others.
Poonam Muttreja, Public Health Expert and Executive Director of Population Foundation of India told PTI, "India as a society has been rooted in patriarchy practiced over decades which encourages domestic violence. She further added, “According to NFHS-4, 31 percent 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."
Furthermore, Muttreja said, "The spread of coronavirus this year has increased incidents of domestic violence. India''s public health system must view domestic violence as a public health concern and respond to it on an urgent basis. We must act now and not merely react each time the evidence stares at us."
In this line, women rights activist Shamina Shafiq said, "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."
The NFHS-5 results of 17 states and five UTs have been announced under Phase 1 of the survey. The survey’s Phase 2 spanning other states of the country will be out next year, the health ministry had said.
Sanskriti Tiwari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.