More Hindu Women Experiencing Domestic Violence Than Muslim Women

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Contrary to the prevailing media and BJP government narrative, it is not Muslim women but their Hindu counterparts who are increasingly experiencing domestic violence and marital discord, according to the 2015-16 National Family Health Survey, conducted by the Indian government

Mumtaz Alam | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — Through the fierce debates over triple talaq in and outside the Parliament, the BJP government at the Centre and assorted TV channels have  been peddling a deliberately misleading narrative, trying to portray Muslim woman as the most oppressed and vulnerable because of the “lethal weapon” of triple talaq wielded by men. Thus she needs to be “rescued” with a stringent criminal law to protect herself from her husband. However, the National Family Health Survey 2015-16 conducted by the Central government punctures its own argument.

The data collected during the survey shows that other women, far more than Muslim women in percentage, are experiencing various kinds of atrocities and violence at home even though their husbands are not armed with the ‘weapon’ of triple talaq.

As per the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, which was released a couple of weeks ago, 27% of women in the country have experienced physical violence since age 15 and 6 per cent have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. Three percent of even pregnant women have experienced physical violence during any pregnancy.

Indian Muslim women protest against the Triple Talaq Bill introduced by the Narendra Modi government.

As for spousal violence, 31% of married women have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence. The most common type of spousal violence is physical violence (27%), followed by emotional violence (13%). Six percent of ever-married women have experienced spousal sexual violence.

The survey also collected community-wise data of domestic violence. In the age group of 15-49 years, 28.7% Hindu women have ever experienced physical violence as against 21.5% Muslim women closely followed by Christians (21.4%). Among religious communities, the Jain women are safest with just 9.3% of them experienced physical violence.

Of women of all categories, the largest victim of physical violence are Scheduled Castes women (33.2%) followed by women of Other Backward Classes (29.2%) and tribal women (26.3%).

Community-wise Breakup of Women (15-49 years) Experiencing Violence 

Physical violence Violence during pregnancy Sexual violence
Hindu 28.7 3.5 5.7
Muslim 21.5 2.9 4.4
Christian 21.4 2.7 5.8
Sikh 19.2 2.5 3.8
Buddhist/Neo-Buddhist 17.9 1.5 3.2
Jain 9.3 0.4 3.8
Scheduled Castes 33.2 5.1 7.0
Scheduled Tribes 26.3 3.3 6.5
Other Backward Class 29.2 3.3 5.6

Source: National Family Health Survey 2015-16

Even after marriage, women continue to experience violence of various kinds – now at the hands of their husbands.

As for spousal violence, both Hindu and Muslim women face emotional violence in equal percentage. But when it comes to physical violence, while percentage of Hindu women victims is 28.8%, that of Muslim women is 23.5%. More Hindu women (6.6%) become victim of sexual violence than Muslim women (5.7%).

SPOUSAL VIOLENCE

Percentage of married women who experienced violence

Emotional violence Physical violence Sexual violence Physical or sexual violence
Hindu 12.9 28.8 6.6 30.0
Muslim 12.9 23.5 5.7 24.7
Christian 11.7 22.8 6.2 24.6
Sikh 6.7 18.3 4.8 18.7
Buddhist/Neo-Buddhist 8.3 18.3 3.8 18.9
Jain 5.2 8.9 4.8 1.9
Scheduled Castes 16.0 34.5 8.4 35.8
Scheduled Tribes 13.3 28.2 7.3 29.6
Other Backward Class 13.1 29.6 6.5 30.9

Source: National Family Health Survey 2015-16

During the triple talaq debate, it is said this practice runs contrary to the idea of gender equality. The survey, however, shows husbands exercise various kinds of marital control on their wives and these controlling behaviors are also against gender justice.

Some 21.1% Hindu women said their husbands do not permit them to meet their female friends. 18.2% Muslim women make such complaint. But far greater number of Jain women (19.0%) faces such restriction. Christian and Sikh women (9.9%) enjoy more freedom.

Around 15.7% Hindu women say their husband try to limit their contact with their family, followed by 13.5% Muslim women. Here too, more Jain women (18.2%) are restricted from contacting their family.

Marital Control Exercised by Husbands 

Frequently accuses her of being unfaithful Does not permit her to meet her female friends Tries to limit her contact with her family Does not trust her with any money
Hindu 8.4 21.1 15.7 25.3
Muslim 7.9 18.2 13.5 20.9
Christian 7.1 9.9 8.1 15.5
Sikh 5.8 9.9 8.3 14.5
Buddhist/

Neo-Buddhist

6.1 7.2 6.1 11.1
Jain 4.9 19.0 18.2 19.6
Scheduled Castes 10.1 22.1 17.3 20.6
Scheduled Tribes 9.2 16.7 12.6 16.2
Other Backward Class 8.5 21.9 16.5 19.6

In money matters too, more Hindu women (25.3%) than Muslim women (20.9%) face trust deficit.

Of all communities, Buddhist women enjoy greater trust of their husband on money matters.

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