More than half of young Indians believe it’s okay for a husband to beat his wife.

Domestic violence doesn’t begin with the first slap, it begins with the acceptance of the possibility that one of the partners in a relationship under some circumstances might get violent.

I have heard women say (proudly) that they ‘are not beaten by their husbands’ because they have the ‘common-sense’ to not argue with their husbands when they are angry, they wait for them to ‘cool down’ and then explain how they reached home late from work or how they forgot to add salt in the food.

Sharing an email by PT.

If you, like me, were kind of hoping that the younger generation would herald a change in gender-based power play in relationships, you might be in for disappointment.
According to a UNICEF report, 57% of Indian boys in the age-group 15-19 think it’s okay for a husband to beat his wife.

More shockingly, 53% of Indian girls in the same age-group agree!

India did fare better than countries like Nepal (where the figure is over 80% for both sexes), but overall, it’s still an abysmal situation and demonstrates our failure as a nation to instill respect for the female gender even amongst women themselves.

Is it more victim blaming? The same just-world fallacy?

Maybe girls are thinking, “Well, MY husband would never hit me, because unlike those abused women, I’m a good wife/DIL.”

That sort of thinking requires you to assume that the victim was at fault and therefore deserved it.
What a mess our society is!

And here’s a comment from the article. I have heard this elsewhere too. What do you think?

Couple of decades back wat the husband was earning was sufficient to run his family. But in todays life no matter where the survey has been made, whether rural or urban, there is need for women to support her family by working outside. This can be the main reason for lot of misunderstanding btw the couples n in laws. This eventually leads to voilence when it crosses its limit . Adding to this is inferiority or superiority complex btw the couples who earn lots of money ,modern life style of the present generation. Many a times its necessary for the couples to hv mutual understanding or a talk so that their teenage children dont get the feeling that beating is the only solution for all the problems. May be this can even help us build a healthy society.

Related posts:

Domestic Violence – Tears and Dreams “She was offering me advice on relationships. You can offer to help rescue a victim. She did not consider herself one. She is happy in her marriage.”
When Is It Okay For A Man To Beat His Wife?
Overheard at a Beauty Parlour…
How Victim Blaming confuses rapists, police and the society about when exactly does non-consensual-sex becomes a crime.

95 thoughts on “More than half of young Indians believe it’s okay for a husband to beat his wife.

    • Bhagi, no it’s not – violence is NEVER okay, irrespective of who the perpetrator is and who the victim is.

      Also, where did anyone say ‘wife beating her husband is okay?’

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    • Wife beating husband is ok???😯
      Why are we behaving like neanderthals, clubbing each other at the first sign of disagreement? Whatever happened to civilised human beings “talking things out”?😛

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    • i dont agree with you Bhagi.. why should anyone bet? infact i am again ppl beating their kids also. when there is better way of handling things.

      what could be the reasons of beating?
      1. not agreeing to once’s statement or actions
      2.misbehaving- in all senses.

      either of the things can be solved by talking.. we are human. ppl dont agree even if we hit animals.. i am just wondering from where people get this attitude of ” ok to beat” . is it from home, school or surroundings??? does the survey talk abt attitude in city VS village??

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    • And with this, you have taken the discussion away from where it should be focused – the point that this post is trying to make – to where people do when they have no reasonable answers to questions posed about the inequality that has seeped deep into our culture. Instead of discussing how we can direct our younger generation better and help them not fall into the same pit of “traditional”
      thinking, we are now discussing if wives beat their husbands and if it is okay.

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  1. This is so depressing. If 53% girls think it is ok for their husbands to beat them, then how many must there be who think their husband is so great just because he doesn’t beat her. He may be treating her like a slave he owns, she may never know a scrap of love of comfort in her marital home, but at least he doesn’t beat her.
    WTF did the comment mean. Wife earning money is a reason to beat her? Not only is she already working a full-time unpaid job, now she earns money as well, which is more reason for you to mistrust her and be violent?
    The reasoning of I always back down when my husband is angry and so he never beats me is so sickening. I have heard it from my MIL as well. Not in context of not beating, but in general, that when the husband is very angry it is better to not say anything. Wait for him to calm down etc etc. After all he is tired after spending a day at work. And the woman, who has already worked more in a day than her husband works in a week, and will continue to work even after he is enjoying his well-earned relaxation should just shut up – otherwise it’s all her fault for provoking him so much that he just HAD to beat her. Yeah right. Patriarchy doing what it does best.

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    • I can’t find the link to the judgement right now, but there was a case in the Delhi HC last month, which was rather typical.

      The respondent husband was a city-based businessman and had beaten his wife on several occasions. They’d been married five years, and he’d abused her throughout, although she had done nothing about it.

      One day, he flew into a rage and beat her up with his father’s walking stick. This was the final straw for the woman.

      Injured and fearing for her safety, she gathered up her kids and left for her parents’ home that very night. She then filed a divorce application on the grounds of cruelty, and followed it up by filing supplementary charges under the Domestic Violence Act. A lower court ruled in her favor, causing the man to appeal the verdict in the HC.

      In the High Court, the man did not contest the divorce, but did contest the DVA verdict. His defense rested ENTIRELY on the claim that the wife, who had apparently been recovering from a mild viral infection, refused to help her mother-in-law cook dinner for the whole family (comprising of the couple, the in-laws, two kids and a brother-in-law), saying that she was feeling too unwell to do anything in the kitchen. According to him, this ‘disobedience’ and ‘disrespect for his mother’ angered him so much that he was left with no choice but to beat her.

      Obviously, the appeal was thrown out rather quickly, but it is rather telling that the man (and presumably his counsel) considered this an adequate defense against a Domestic Violence charge!

      And he’s not alone. Many people are shocked and outraged when they find out that the “she deserved it” card, which works so well in middle-class drawing-rooms throughout India, simply does not fly in a court of law.

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        • That’s quite probable, Thumbelina.

          The exact sentencing depends on the extent of injuries sustained by the wife, but a conviction for physical abuse under Section 498a generally does attract at least a short prison term. And since it’s a non-bailable offense, he’d have to serve most of it. in jail

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  2. I think many Indians feel they have a ‘right’ to beat their wives. I’ve often heard a close relative saying to his children “Your mother is lucky I never raise a hand against her”. He meant it in a joking manner (because he is not the sort of person who would raise his hand at anybody) – but even a gentle, well-educated, urban man like him thought he ‘could’ beat his wife if he wanted to just that he was too ‘civilised/ cultured’ to do so. And this is a case where the wife earning much more than her husband and is generally very successful and highly respected in her field.

    But it’s very disheartening to think that even young people feel this way. It makes me feel like we’re going to endlessly perpetuate this cycle of violence and abuse, each generation hoping the next will be better, while the hope remains in vain! I’m shuddering to think that maybe my teenage cousins think this way.

    I try very hard to engage with my teenage cousins about what are perceived as feminist issues – we discuss simple things (for example, all my young cousins are of the firm belief that girls drinking alcohol is terrible – and I question them about why they think so, we discuss their thoughts about it); sometimes they see my point of view, sometimes they don’t. Either way, I feel such talks help in questioning opinions and beliefs that they have blindly inherited. Of course, their parents don’t always approve of these discussions but they can’t outright call me a bad influence (because of a good academic record!) so I get away with it.

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    • Chinese have words: First class men afraid of wives, second class men curse wives, third class men fight w. Wives. Treating wives (women first) as queen is always rewarding in relationship.

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  3. Well, this is coming from a a white, upper middle class, professional American woman married to an merchant middle class Indian man so this is MY perspective.

    It isn’t just ‘domestic violence’ as a method of problem solving-but the lack of empathy and consideration for the feelings of others that many Indians aren’t taught. Tantrums that would only be tolerated in 4 year olds in my American family are completely acceptable in grown men in India.

    I mean take this statement-
    “I have heard women say (proudly) that they ‘are not beaten by their husbands’ because they have the ‘common-sense’ to not argue with their husbands when they are angry, they wait for them to ‘cool down’… how they forgot to add salt in the food.”

    A situation such as this just happened recently in my own marriage. As part of a ‘going away’ feast for my husband’s visiting brother I was asked to recreate his favorite fish dish. A dish I have never, tasted, seen, nor could I find a written recipe in any of my written cookbooks nor on the internet. All I had to go on was a 15 minute description by my husband and his brother and my fairly decent cooking skills. Plus I had to cook the dish for 12 people. So I had to clean 12 fish, pick & clean saag for 12 people, make the shorba out of the fish heads, clean the saag, fry the saag, marinate the fish in masala, fry the fish , make the chutneys, rice, rotis etc – needless to say it was quite time consuming and I hate fish.
    So everyone shows up at 10 pm and dear husband flies into a rage at me in front of all the relatives, employees, guests-
    YOU HAVE RUINED THE ENTIRE EVENING!!!! YOU DIDN’T PUT THE FISH IN THE SHORBA FOR 30 MINUTES!!! IT IS RUINED!!!
    (Ok, so like he went on for like 20 minutes telling what a horrid mess I made of everything because I missed this final step while I stood there humiliated jaw agape.)
    So I say- ‘So, it’s not salvageable, we can’t put the fish, swag, & shorba in a pot and heat it up?’
    Dear husband- ‘NO WHO IS GOING TO WAIT FOR THAT NOW IT IS TOO LATE!!!!’
    So I say-‘Really, well do not ever ask me to fix fish for you again, good night, I am going to bed.’
    Dear husband follows me down the hallway into the bedroom and continues yelling-
    ‘YOU SHOULD KNOW ANY KASHMIRI DISH WITH FISH SHOULD HAVE TO BE COOKED LIKE THAT………….BLAH BLAH BLAH…and so on for 10 minutes more……..!!!!!!!!!!!!’

    WTF?
    I should know?
    Why should I know? Does he know how to make a cheeseburger?
    So yeah I’m venting and maybe this isn’t the place for it.
    But the next day I told him I spent all damned day on that stinky fish dish not really knowing what I was doing and I really didn’t appreciate being humiliated in front of his family and his employees.
    I was texted a ‘Sorry’.
    While I am meditating on the benefits of forgiveness dear husband can cook his own damned meals for a few days.
    And any fish that comes into this house again is going back into the lake.

    I’ve seen American wives put up with this kind of crap sometimes too I have to admit, but not to this extent.

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    • “So yeah I’m venting and maybe this isn’t the place for it.” Don’t worry… this is a good place for it🙂

      If your husband annoys you further, point him to Indian – yes Indian – wives like me who don’t cook.

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    • Phatimabibi,

      I’m feeling so angry after reading your comment. I can’t even begin to imagine how humiliated and angry you must have felt.

      I think it would be good for your husband if you were to meditate very long and very hard on the benefits- or lack thereof- of forgiveness. Maybe this is the opportunity to lay down new ground-rules for how adults in mature relationships ought to express anger, or any feelings. I apologise if I am making assumptions about how the two of you communicate but obviously I am going by this one incident.

      S

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    • Wow.

      It sounds to me like dear husband needs to cook his own damn fish. I can’t believe he started berating you in front of people like that! That is beyond unacceptable. It is bullying!

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    • Another thing that is common among Indian men, they actually take pride in treating their wives this bad in front of their families.
      My otherwise wonderful husband is a different person all together in front of his family. I do not even recognize him, it is as though he is trying too hard to prove to them that he is still part of their family.

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    • Okay this is really unrelated. But I am kashmiri too. LOL.

      And you did the right thing. And stick with your decision of not cooking fish again. If you give in, he will never figure out it was his fault.

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  4. Just another extension of India’s culture of ‘bullying’. It’s a short step from continual threats and tantrums to actual violence.

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    • Wow, you are a much better woman, and while it is divine to forgive,make sure he knows he was a Dbag and he should know, thats not how you talk to even your maid servant, let alone you wife. This coming from a Indian, upper middle class, professional woman, educated in the US,married to a middle class white american hubby. Sure,I learnt how to make cheese burgers, spaghetti and his grandma’s pound cake but he makes some darn good chai and Dal chawal too.
      It could be your hubs was getting ribbed by his family about how you wouldnt be able to make this dish and all. He bit the bait unfortunately. Indians are very good are putting other people down.

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  5. I have seen this in my in-laws place. my maternal family is such that, the men in the older generations died before their time, and the women had to step up to keep the family together and alive. As such, there is a great and tremendous respect and devotion to all the women of the family, whether they are born into, or married into the family. The only family ( that I have seen) where DILs refuse to go their mothers’ place even for a couple of days, and prefer to spend time with their in-laws, and prefer to call the in-laws mom and dad.
    My in-laws has a 360 degree turn.
    My FIL beats my MIL with whatever he can find. Slippers, broom whatever. Anyone trying to stop him also gets beaten up in the process. Imagine watching something like this the second day of your marriage. I almost ran back home to get the marriage annulled!
    We have managed to find a place of our own to live (this after a miscarriage – I was shocked at the kind of violence I saw that their place, the shock was just so huge that I lost my baby – I had to draw a line there – I did not want to become like my MIL or my BIL’s wife who now had resigned to their fate).
    Everytime I tell my MIL that the first time he raised his hand, you should have stopped FIL, she acts shocked. She asks me if I will do the same if her son raises his hand.
    I told her that I would definitely go to the police even if he spoke of hitting me. It is the mindset that matters.
    She tells me that it is the main reason why marriages fail today – women take their freedom for granted. She says that is the reason why she got a stay-at-home DIL for her elder son who according to her is ” very innocent, but has a terrible temper”. My FIL thinks that a man who cannot “control” his wife is no man at all. So, when we decided to move out (post the miscarriage episode) he refused to talk to his son, saying he had “donated” his son to his in-laws (read my family) and that being a woman, I had “exerted control” over my husband; and by yielding to which, the husband has lost his “manly” status. my husband (according to my FIL) should have “controlled me”, by “whatever means possible”, so what if one child is gone, the man holds the “ability” to produce more kids. Control is more important.
    Disgusting!
    Needless to say, we now have no ties with my FIL or my BIL

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      • unfortunately Sraboney, there are times, when physical violence isnt the only violence. The ability to guilt someone is equally bad. the husband is very much a mamma’s boy, and while he wouldnt dream of laying a finger on me – whenever his mother rues that she is getting old, and has no one to care for her (read give her money for her whims and fancies) he gets all guilty and gets all grumpy on me. Our place is far off (financial constraints stopped us from buying a home in the heart of the city) so every time he gets late to somewhere he goes “when i lived in XXX area, I could go anywhere at anytime and never get late. we live in a godforsaken place for no fault of mine”; he rues to his men friends that “women are conditioned to leave their parents post marriage, here, I have had to leave them too” and random such stuff which leads to heated arguements. He usually has a good head on his shoulders, but his mom has this effect on him. I hate that I married a mamma’s boy, and I hate that the mamma is so ARGH!

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        • I know what you mean, the parents have this emotional control over their children in India, especially boys.
          People tell me that my problems will go away if I move out, but I foresee what you are going through, my dear husband along with everyone will curse me all along for breaking his family, and nothing will ever change for me.

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        • oh dear FedupDIL, so sorry for your MIL. Unfortunately this is not just an indian thing, my american FIL (doesn’t hit my MIL, but did many years ago when the hubs was a toddler he did hit his mom) he talks down to her and she just smiles. My brother in law yells at her and treats her like a maid, I was aghast to the point that one day I told the BIL,”How you talk to you Mother is your business, but get down on your knees and thank the Lord, I am not your mom, because if my son ever spoke to me like that, I would smack him” He ran to the hubs saying “i was nuts and cussing him out” LOL..the hubs said”yes, she is, don’t mess with her” .
          Many years agom, the FIL flicked my MIL on her forehead and told her to shut up. The hubs who was 25 at the time, asked him to step outside and said “If you ever touch my mom again…”..Been 10 years never touched my MIL but still acts like an ass and thinks just becuase he gets her flowers for valentines or fixes her car, he is a super hero. Violence is never ok. Good on you to move away.

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        • I think your MIL is extracting her pound of flesh for having endured an abusive marriage “for the children”

          Your husband may be her “surrogate husband”.

          This was discussed in the previous post. Do read it if you can spare some time.

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    • @Another Scaredy cat’s girl – so very true. There never is a moment when people would not readily point fingers and say – the DIL broke up the home; poor parents of the son. They thought they had the “budhape ka sahaara” but see what the evil DIL did! no one knows what we go through!

      @ariana – you are so true. the MIL has inferiority complex and attachment issues. She very proudly says she fed my hubby breast milk until he was 6, and since she gave birth to him and fed him until he could fend for himself, it is his divine duty to take care of her. This was just too much @ beginning of the marriage, and every day was like a game of chess. today, 3 years and some months later, due to constant dialogue between the husband and me, it has reduced to some extent. negligible amount, but a step in that direction anyways. I try everything not to become a mother like the MIL, rather make the child independent and a self thinking and self reliant individual.

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  6. Domestic violence has gained ground as it is repeatedly been depicted in serials across national channels. Be it a Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil or Kannada soap, a man slapping women or even kicking them is shown several times. At times it is the so-called bad woman/vamp who gets belted and hence it gains acceptance among the masses under “She deserved it” category. No need for me to educate, the effect of such prime-time serials on the mass psyche and slowly beating/slapping gains accepted status even among young girls. I think this is one of the main reasons for the above survey to throw such results.

    It is funny actually to note that serials run a disclaimer in regional language when showing consumption of alcohol but do not put any such disclaimers while showing untold violence against women in the same serials.

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      • LOL..that is so true..Show a woman on screen wearing a bikini and oh all the moral police will be up i arms. Show a woman being slapped by her husband..ph well such is life..women need to be slapped you see just like you can slapy your underage maid or boy servant with impunity.
        the underlying truth is people or human will always take advantage or exploit what they can. Ask the same man who slapped his wife to tell his mom to shut up and watch him turn into a mouse. Or the same woman who slaps her maid to slap the neighbor hood gossip queen. Fat chance eh?

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    • I agree with your point, but just to play the Devil’s Advocate, I will point out that movies don’t run disclaimers against murder and robbery either.

      Some things are supposed to be self-evident, eh?

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      • I beg to disagree, PT.

        People who commit murder or robbery are almost always shown getting their just desserts eventually. If you still want to emulate them, at least you know where you could end up.

        Hitting/slapping women, on the other hand, is kind of glorified in mainstream Indian movies as a means of knocking some sense into them when they are getting uppity. Seldom are the perpetrators punished–art does imitate life in this instance — and it is not really self-evident that violence against women is not acceptable.

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        • People who commit murder or robbery are almost always shown getting their just desserts eventually

          Hardly that.

          There is an entire sub-genre of movies which glorify criminal acts. Think The Godfather, Inside Man, Swordfish, The Partner…

          I don’t watch that much of Bollywood, so I can’t name that many Hindi movies, but Don is one classic. Also, Rajneeti, which does seem to normalize, if not justify retaliatory political violence. Rang De Basanti was another one which justified murder.

          There are a lot of films based on the idea of “sticking it up to the man”, often in illegal and harmful ways. Violence is shown as a way to get what you want, quickly and effectively.

          The point is that movies have never been a good way to learn life skills. It is not true that children directly emulate what they see in films. The degree of emulation, or rejection, of a movie’s message is a function of the environment in which a child (or for that matter, an adult) grew up. The film-maker’s job is to tell a story; it is up to us to draw morals and interpret the message.

          I frankly think it would be rather silly if we were confronted with “domestic violence is a CRIME” every time there was a domestic violence scene on TV. To me, it would be very similar to a message saying “theft is a CRIME” every time a robber was shown. Of course, what is self-evident to me may not be self-evident to everyone, but I think at some level, most people do realize that domestic violence is wrong. The problem isn’t really that they don’t see it’s wrong. The problem is that they think that that degree of wrongness is justified in certain situations.

          A disclaimer would be superfluous and would do nothing to change this attitude.

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  7. IHM, this kind of thinking is not only prevalent in third world countries, it is prevalent in first world countries too…In my opinion culture, patriarchy and religion are to blame for this…

    Many scriptures state that men are superior to women because God has made them that way and because they are the money earners…Since a woman is financially dependent on a man, she must submit to him and any disobedience can be punished by violence…Now you know why I don’t believe in religion – it is written by men, for men…

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  8. A few more explanations from informed and educated TOI readers:

    Why do Indian teens think domestic violence is acceptable?

    1. Because the wife may be drunk:

    No. it is not superiority complex that makes a man beat his wife. It could even be inferiority complex. It could be endless nagging. It could be daily snide remarks. Or it could even be a drunk wife.

    2. Because the majority totally gets to encroach on the most basic rights that people have.

    Women are stripped naked for magazines in the US for money making and such behavior is considered acceptable. In Egypt, most girls who are in their teens are circumcised with their clitorises cut off and this is still going on in a big way. Abuse of women is common in the world, not just India. Therefore, if a vast majority of people in democratic India feel wife beating is justified, then the majority voice holds even if wife beating is wrong. Moreover, if women can beat their kids for disciplinary reasons in India, then men should be allowed to beat their wives for disciplining them also. There should be no double standards. How can one say wife beating is wrong but child beating is okay or husband beating is okay ? In reality any abuse is wrong. But most societies have double standards. In the US men are exploited and extorted in divorce cases which is also a form of abuse and it is allowed. Men are circumcised in the US which is abuse and it is allowed. Therefore if India feels wife beating is justified as a majority voice so be it. Personally I feel wife beating is very wrong. But the majority voice holds good in a democracy.

    3. Because women looooove the attention.

    Girls crave for attention, negative or positive . Indifference is intolerable to girls , who chronologically grow up into women though mentally remaining still as girls . Getting a beating is also a kind of attention , albeit negative. So the women ( who remain as girls ) love it , like it and even crave for it. They don’t take beating in the way men take it . It’s not what happens to you that matters but how you take that matters! Indian women give ” everything ” they have to their husbands on the first night itself. Now all they want is his total attention, comitment and emotional and financial support in that order,in return .She, educated or not, has no concept of what abuse is .If he abuses her physically she can pay him back by making his life hell psychologically .So, it’s not her primary concern .Attention ,is the first thing she wants that gives her satisfaction.

    4. Because of Sagarika Ghose.

    Don’t blame them. They see Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghosh, Teesta Setalvad on TV all the time.

    5. Because it’s all in the genes

    Feminists, Social Activists etc can do what they want, bring in another million laws like DV Act but they can never control this practice/attitude of wife beating. The more you pressurise, the more people will hit out, its all in the genes and will continue for centuries to come

    6. Because…Muslims!

    may be all the people surveyed were muslim

    I think #4 is my favorite, in its sheer illogic and irrelevancy. #3 is a close second.

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      • I didn’t get #4 at all. I have no idea what the fellow was trying to say.

        Sagarika Ghose is a popular punching bag for the Indian conservative crowd, so they just HAD to drag her name into the argument, somehow.

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    • Reading the TOI comments can be frustrating! # 6 is very commonly seen in TOI comments. (to any article, however irrelevant it might be to muslims).
      All these reasons really make me feel hopeless about any improvement in the mindset.

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    • AI-
      Oh such is the human condition I suppose.
      The behavior is so ‘out of control’ and therefore ‘unmanly’ in my culture it never fails to shock me when it happens again though. (And it always does)
      I shall have my ‘pound of flesh’ though.
      A new iMac is already on the way, I feel a 5 to possibly 6 digit bit of shopping/retail/spa therapy may be necessary when I visit the US next month. My consulting/advisory position at the CDC in Atlanta might require some overtime also. You just never know about these things now do you?😉

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      • I do’nt get what you are saying. But why do you tolerate such behaviour? Atleast you are not into the kind of social and family pressures that most Indian women are into.

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      • @ phatimabibi
        You’d make Darwin proud with your legendary adaptive skills. I lost you after the ‘pound of flesh’, though. I have a route change next week and my head is riddled with the new SID/STARs, VOR-LOCs and trying to deal with the fact that I’ll be flying critical approaches once again. But you don’t have to deal with that, do you?

        @ Nivedita
        Foreign women have the pressure of trying to fit into the stereotype of the ‘ideal desi bahu’. The pressure is far more restricting because a small social error and it becomes an “I told you so!” moment for the in-laws.

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      • Buying expensive items is an odd way to punish bad behavior. Your husband sounds like an ass. Again the question is if your husband’s behavior shocks you so much why put up with it? A lot of Indian woman have no choice, but you do, so I don’t get it.

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        • After 10 yrs of living on the Indian sub continent I am still learning the culture (and all the sub cultures thereof).

          Yes, dear husband can be a complete and utter ASS, especially when he is around his other brothers and Kashmiri peers/pals for some reason. He can also be the most caring, loving person I know most of the time. I’m not sure if the ‘ass behavior’ to me in front of his family/pals/peers is somehow asserting ‘male dominance’ of some kind in his little Kashmiri micro culture?

          Anyhow, not sure what to make of the immediate retaliatory tantrums nor the ‘over the top’ reactionary emoting that my Indian in laws seem to enjoy on a near constant basis. I’m not sure how much of this behavior is just ‘Kashmiri’ or the result of having lived in an area of near constant violence for the past 20 yrs?
          Hard to say, I’ve seen similar behaviors in my 9 month stint in Karnataka with MSF, and when working with UNICEF in Ludhiana and Kolkata. Bihar lets not even talk about. Not so much during my work with the UN mission in Nepal.

          Buying expensive items/procedures works quite well, dear husband likes to show off new ostentatious unnecessary vehicles on a yearly basis.
          This year I don’t think that will happen. I’m a California girl, nipped, tucked & lasered to perfection. Although I haven’t had anything done to my face YET.😉

          Why else put up with it?
          Well we have kids.
          I love our lifestyle. (sans assinine inlaws and outbreaks)
          Despite dear husband’s near trimesterly ‘assinine’ outbreaks he is quite emotionally dependent on me, (more so than I am on him).
          My medical training and Mennonite Christian upbringing have ingrained a tolerance for crappy behavior and an almost stoic ability not to react even I wonder at myself sometimes.
          Forgiveness is divine. And I’m not even very religious.
          Besides I usually just try and make a joke out of it.
          What else can you do?
          Just part of the BS and jellybeans of dealing with human beings.
          White men can be ‘asses’ too. Believe me.

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        • @phatima bibi

          I am really surprised at your thinking. These are the same reasons that make women in India bear with all the abuse.
          You have moved to an other country for his sake, changed your lifestyle, you even cook for him & his family! Did you also convert to his religion?
          Your husband has to be grateful in this scenario, you have done a lot for him.
          Keep reminding him of that!

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        • I sincerely doubt this kind of behavior has anything to do with Kashmir.

          It’s all too common among some of my own (Punjabi) family members, none of whom have done anything more unsafe than driving through the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway.

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        • I dont think a bi annual screeming nad posturing by a man requires that the woman leave🙂 Im assuming that was what it was. I’m not talking of physical hitting or emotional abuse but in marriages people yell , it’s not always sweet. in our marriage I’m the ‘drama queen’. i’m not quick to temper but strange things set me off. yet my husband hasn’t left , again we don’t yell in fornt of strangers or even kids but…
          In one instance i went in to take a shower after my husband an d had no hot water and you will not believe the tirade i went on..in earshot of the kids, cook,driver et all🙂 for him to tell me later that night that he didn’t have hot water either, I forgot to switch on the geyser, the one i switch on every single day since i don’t trust his memory🙂 and also that it was probably the 8 or ninth time i forgot and usually i never notice since he gets hit with cold water, turns it on and by the timei go it’s toasty adn warm !!!!! lets just say i had to eat humple pie that night…

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        • “Forgiveness is divine. And I’m not even very religious.
          Besides I usually just try and make a joke out of it.
          What else can you do?”
          I am going to respond to your last sentence even though you are not really asking for advice. But if I were in your position and my husband threw tantrums and railed against me in front of his family, I would A) Absolutely refuse to cook anything for any occasion where his family was there, B) Pull him aside and tell him to either knock it off or he will be finding himself entertaining everyone on his own and then follow up on the threat if he continued his obnoxious behavior. Your husband sounds as if he is behaving like a macho man in front of his parents and relatives to prove that he has control over the foreign wife.

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        • The more I look at this issue, the more it appears to me that the idea of freedom and choice is an illusion, for most people. It is highly valued when they don’t have it, but when they do, they don’t behave any different. The weight of humanity bears down upon them.

          By the way, India is multi-culture. Sub cultures imply that there is a master culture that is the template off all cultures, which can be quite offensive to a lot of Indians.

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  9. One one hand, how much of violence do people find OK because that is what they have seen in their own homes?
    On the other, how does the study define beating? Maybe most of those who said yes are thinking of a society wife who totters in drunk late at night and the kids have gone hungry (the kind of woman who deserves beating, according to movies) and consider the movie style one-tight-slap as the beating. Either domestic violence is way more common than I understood (I am sure it is somewhat more common than I can imagine), or most people have a very vague idea about it.
    Related idea – it took me a long while and lots of reading to get over the idea that it is ok to beat kids in some circumstances. What clinched it for me was the argument of “If your colleague / subordinate is either obnoxious or incapable or is deliberately not performing well on the job, do you hit them?”
    When we think that violence is OK in some circumstances, it is easier to excuse it in others. The funny thing is, when I am frustrated, I do find myself wanting to hit out, even if mentally I accept that it is not OK.

    Like

    • Link to the original UNICEF report

      From the report:

      Girls and women were asked whether they think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances, i.e., if his wife burns the food, argues with him, goes out without telling him, neglects the children or refuses sexual relations

      Adolescent boys were asked whether they think that a husband is justified in
      hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances, i.e., if his wife burns the food, argues with him, goes out without telling him, neglects the children or refuses sexual relations

      Physical violence was defined as:

      (a) being pushed or shaken, having something thrown at her, or having her arm twisted or her hair pulled;
      (b) being slapped;
      (c) being punched with a fist or with something that could hurt her, or being kicked, dragged or beaten up;
      (d) being choked or burned; or
      (e) being threatened or attacked
      with a knife, gun, or other type of weapon.

      I think the real test really does lie in the “certain circumstances” part of the argument.

      Hardly anyone would say that it’s okay to beat a woman who does everything in accordance with her traditional gender role.

      The question is, do they think it’s okay to ‘discipline’ women for disobedience?

      As well, it’s important to point out that if 15 year-olds think domestic violence is justifiable, it’s not really a reflection on the adolescents themselves, as much as it is a reflection on the society in which they have been raised.

      Somewhere, somehow, despite all the government-sponsored ads and educational programs, we have failed.

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        • Regarding disciplining women – it comes from thinking of anyone lower in the hierarchy – women, children, poorer men, service workers as ‘Supporting actors’ in the man’s life rather than fellow humans. What profound selfishness!
          The best punishment that I can wish on all these people is actual understanding.

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  10. Though I agree domestic violence is of major concern in India, I cannot believe in these statistics. 50+% of what? Like 1000 people they called or interviewed?

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    • lady,

      As long as it was a representative sample, the sample size doesn’t really matter that much.

      A representative sample of 1000 people would be roughly sufficient to produce data where one would be 99% sure that the a similar survey on a population of 1,000,000,000 people would produce results within 4% of the results here. (in statistics, we would say that a sample size of 1000 in a billion-strong population is sufficient to produce accurate results with a confidence level of 99% and a confidence interval of approximately 4%).

      Considering that the number of Indians in the age group of 15-19 is nowhere near a tenth of that figure, 1000 adolescents are more than sufficient for this sort of survey, even assuming minor errors in sampling and so on.

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      • The bias in sampling can make it a non-representative and hence quite worthless actually. A perfect representative sample doesn’t exist.
        It would be interesting to know the methodology of surveying here to assess possible biases.

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        • Yes, that is why I said “assuming minor errors”.

          As far as I know, UNICEF uses Multiple Index Cluster Survey (MICS IV, to be exact) data for their analyses.

          More on MICS here.

          It’s a pretty sophisticated platform, and it’s carried out in conjunction with local government authorities. I do not think the sampling bias would be inordinately large.

          Some sampling error is inevitable, of course, but the point isn’t really that it’s exactly 57% of adolescents who answered “yes”. The point is that any number even near that is alarmingly high, and definitely points to a large-scale problem.

          Like

      • ok got the details. Results of the survey are in fact more rooted in facts as they have included both rural and urban households across states.

        “For the 21 states with a population of five million and above, a sample
        consisting of 3,000 rural and 1,800 urban households per state was sought, except for Delhi, where 1,800 rural and 3,000 urban households were included to reflect its greater urban composition. For the remaining five states and three UTs, an aggregate(combined rural-urban) of 3,000 households was included. In Lakshadweep, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and Daman & Diu, due to their much smaller population size, 1800 households were included.”

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        • Yup, there you go.

          It would’ve been interesting if they had mentioned the relative prevalence of these attitudes in urban vs rural areas.

          I don’t doubt that the figure would be higher in rural areas, but I also suspect that those of us who believe in the relative progressiveness of urban India might have been in for some surprises.

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  11. ok.. let me preach again….
    Marriage is not a power-sharing arrangement, A family does not have a boss , leader and subordinates, there are no life and death situations, there is no strategy, there is no one to outwit and survive. In short this is not an ARMY – no blind obedience needed.
    A marriage is just 2 people choosing to share their lives together. All this garbage about head of household etc., is just that – garbage🙂
    It is upto us to teach out children. e.g in this blog about 100 people comment , lets go with the 2 kids each syndrome that means we have effectively a way of raising 200 people correctly who in turn will make the lives of 200 more v v happy . see the power in this one blog alone🙂
    so start teaching your kids by example.
    One eve a while ago we were all sitting outside and the kids were playing volleyball with their friends, about 5boys and 2 girls , they finished up and came up to our chairs and asked for something to drink. we pointed to the rasna pitcher , soon they ran out ( yes teenagers are bottomless pits) and a discussion started as to who’s going to make more ( ehh not us) . the kid who got voted was not happy and said ‘ well in 10yrs he’ll be married – his wife will have this ready ‘ !!!! seriously i’m not making this up, the 2 girls in the group took offense and the boy said ‘that’s how it’s always done- what’s wrong with helping your husband ‘ .
    My husband went in , made more ( how hard is it pour a packet and add water!!!!) and asked them to zip it and blistered the ears of that poor child , — are you planning an ‘underage marriage’ no?ohh youre planning to marry a puppy ( he he he) no ? an actual adult, legally? dont you think if she’s an adult she’s your equal as humans not your personal sevak to make rasna while you uselessly galavant with your friends. did he ask his daddy to make rasna while he loafed around ? no why not? I think he got it that it was not about making rasna or helping your spouse or feminism or anything like that, you marry to share your life not to subjugate someone or to assert your superiority – man or woman.
    Sadly this child learned this from his home – well earning dad, ordering mom around and treating her as personal valet and decoration. children blindly copy what they see. i don’t blame the youngsters at all, atleast not until they reach the age to see their faults and correct them. once they do that they break free of the bonds then they can get married and truly experience all that it has to offer.

    I selfishly think with glee, if these are the kind of men out there , my son’s are going to marry some amazing women , easily , he he he.

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  12. There is a stereotype out there that men who beat their wives are ‘manly’. An old Tamil proverb goes along the lines of ‘The hand that hits is the hand would also hug’ and plenty of movies enforce this stereotype. The heroine typically does something ‘worth getting hit’ and the hero hits her, she is abashed and they fall in love/have sex depending on whether they are unmarried or married. I feel this is extremely harmful. What is to stop a man from battering a woman and then claim he only did it ‘out of love’? Don’t such stereotypes confuse women who might think this is the norm? Turning that on its head, how do we educate our kids and teens what IS the norm?

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    • Yeah, and also the scenes in these movies where the wife/girl friend is all arrogant , the man slaps, and boom! .. in the next scene she is falling at his feet wearing a saree!

      Like

  13. An alarming percentage of Indian parents, including younger couples and non-resident Indian couples, beat their kids as a disciplinary measure. Often this goes on until the kids are 8 or even 9. This is the sort of childhood abuse that can psychologically affect kids in a permanent way where they assume it’s okay for violence among family members. So I am not surprised at the results of those polls conducted among young people.

    I don’t really think this is a gender issue per se, because people who were beaten as children by their parents will often resort to the same approach with their spouses (irrespective of gender), so I foresee newer Indian couples having physical fights (both husband and wife going at each other). Goes without saying that it’s not in favor of women because the average woman is physically weaker than the average man. A good first step towards trying to eradicate this sort of thing is to educate young Indian parents that it’s absolutely not okay to beat their kids. Not even once.

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  14. Wow is this the thought process of young Indians today? I think I’m going to start looking for a phoren husband now..😉

    A young American couple came to stay opposite our house some time ago (back in India), and all the Indian ladies went gaga over her husband because he participated equally in the housework. In fact, after they had a baby, we rarely ever saw the wife carrying the child when they were out of the house. It was almost always the husband who did that. They are pretty much my model of what a happy marriage should be like, considering I have no other examples in my life.

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      • From personal experience, I have to disagree with the lady! NRI culture is often a microcosm of the worst of India, minus the support system of immediate family/friends.

        Like

        • I agree @Blinkdot. There may be some NRI men who are progressive, but many hold on to their original culture with a fierceness, as if the whole world is out to adulterate it and make them accept new and useful ideas.

          Reading about all these things makes me wonder, who are the women who put up with this stuff? If it ever happened to me, the guy better sleep with one eye open because there will be hell to pay…

          Like

    • That is not ture, there are plenty of indian men who are hands on fathers. My late dad was one, when it not cool to be one. My hubs is one although he is american. I work and we share equal responsibilties. i see plenty of desi men who do more with thier children than women, the opposite is also true. It has be a balance like with anything in life.

      Like

    • 🙂

      A 50-50 partnership rocks, agreed, but even Indian men are capable of that!😀

      My dad does more housework than my mom does now (He’s retired, my mom is not) He also drops her to work and picks her up again in the evening (even when she says she doesn’t need the ride), doesn’t let my mom make a single roti (she has carpal tunnel syndrome). He also makes the tea (he’s the only one who drinks tea 4 times a day, but always asks if the rest of us would like some too)

      And when I was a baby, Dad carried me around most of the time, if only because my mom had had a C-section, and I was a huge roly-poly baby (Well that’s the reason my mom gives me, I suspect it was because of general baby cuteness syndrome)

      They aren’t a demonstrative/openly affectionate couple (old school Indian arranged match) but pretty much split the household chores.

      Like

      • Forgot to mention he’s also responsible for dog care (essentially baby care) Feeding them regularly, bathing Soney (dog #1) once a week, then spending an hour chasing Layla (dog #2) around the house, dragging her out from under the bed if she’s hiding there, and wrestling with her in the name of giving her a bath. He’s so sincere in his duties that I’ve even had an annoyed call from my Mom, complaining about how my dad was using her expensive hair serum to comb out the snarls from Layla’s ears (she’s a cocker spaniel who drags her longgg floppy ears through god-knows-what )

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  15. IHM,
    The findings of t survey is not at all surprising. This will remind us the hard fact that majority of Indians have a feudal mind set though we are living in capitalism. The Social change lags behInd economic changes by few decades to even a century.
    To increase the speed of change we have to work hard to educate the ppl.

    Like

  16. IHM, this actually made me feel physically sick. I’m about to throw up. So sickening. Especially the bit about how the woman thinks she has a good husband just because he doesn’t beat her.

    It’s like they think their husbands are gods, and when they don’t beat them, their status is elevated to ‘benevolent, magnanimous god’. It’s like beating is supposed to be the norm, and if he doesn’t do it, you’re ‘lucky’ or something.

    In my personal opinion, violence of any kind- physical, sexual, verbal, mental, is absolutely intolerable, disgusting, cannot be condoned and should be dealt with immediately in a constructive manner, which I think should ideally involve removing oneself from given situation with immediate effect, for self-preservation. Again, patriarchy’s a major player here.

    Lots of these women are brought up to think their ‘destiny’, or whatever the hell that is, is to be someone’s wife. I’m 21, and I’ve seen people my age gush and gurgle about wanting to be married and cook for someone a la k3g – (and the new Oreo ad as well, I found it disgusting, but I took your advice and did a post about it instead!) .. There’s a 20 year old girl in my best friend’s college, whose mum has told her that girls are ‘paraya dhan’, and that if she ‘didn’t learn how to cook and wash clothes and clean by now, how was she going to live in her husband’s house?’

    I go into catatonic rage when I see such stuff on the news and the internet. So very disturbing..

    Like

  17. I just watched Parineeta for the nth time (love that movie), for all it’s beauty and all that, one thing that struck me was how when Shekar slapped Lolita, not even a sound of complaint or apology was heard from her or him respectively. In my ancestral home, one of my uncles used to beat his wife everyday, everyone used to blame my aunt for beign a ‘loud mouth’ after some years he apparently stopped and everyone congratulated her for ‘gaining some sense’. I still can’t bring myself to respect the man.
    Only insecure cowards will hit a woman and then justify it!

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  18. Sadly enough, domestic violence appears even in the so-called modern Western world. I’m a European with friends in America, and the stories I hear from them would give quite some abusive Indian men a run for their money. When teenage girls repeatedly end up in relationships with boys of their age, where they are sexually exploited, beaten, bullied and mistreated, I could despair of this world. I keep telling these girls that this is NOT how a partnership works and encouraged one of them to file a complaint against her abusive boyfriend (as a foreigner, that earned him a deportation from the United States – good riddance!).

    But I’m still left speechless when she states everybody keeps telling her that after marriage, the wife has to provide sex for the husband all the time. Guess what – I don’t and my husband is perfectly fine with me not being in the mood at times. It’s hard to say who was more shell-shocked – she to learn that a husband accepts such behaviour from his wife or me to hear what her o-so-modern family teaches her about gender roles. We need so many more blogs like yours, IHM!

    Like

  19. Saw this post today. Domestic violence is not acceptable at all. As you know, Indians are heavily influenced by movies. And it is very common for a husband to slap his ‘arrogant’ wife. “Mujhe bahut pehle ye karna chahiye tha” the husband says and the audience clap in cheer “chalo accha hua, ab to akal aayi us aurat ko”. So husband hitting wife is normal in our country. It is a shame that few women find nothing wrong in husbands hitting the wives. One day, I was surfing channels on the television and was shocked to see a scene from an old Tamil movie. I do not know the title of the movie. The heroine married to the hero is advised by a friend “you know my husband hit me last night. of course it was my fault. But after he hit me, he realized i was hurt and he took me out for dinner. It was such a lovely moment. There is so much love in husband hitting wife. You should experience it once”. I did not want to watch the next scene,

    Like

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