Wife beating is a phenomenon that cannot be brushed under the carpet. It is fairly prevalent, though it is against the law. To counter this wife beating the Government a few years back enacted the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2004 which makes wife beating a punishable crime under the act. This is in addition to the provisions in the Indian Penal Code
However this act has not acted as a deterrent and wife beating in India is an accepted phenomenon, especially in rural societies. To get an idea of the magnitude of the problem a survey wasconducted by the Government under the National Family health sheme. The Survey when published, came up with some startling revelations. It found that in Bihar, the perpetration of physical and sexual as well as emotional violence against women was higher than the national average. and cut across all classes of people and castes.
Some of the findings do give us food for thought as they show that 66%% of males who carried out these acts of violence on their partners were in the lowest wealth index. Thus it meant that the economically back ward males were more prone to beating wives. In contrast wife beating in the middle class homes was lower at 55%. What about the affluent? Surprisingly the figures show that 56% would beat their wives. This is the surprising
The survey further came to the conclusion, that the modern nuclear families were likely to record greater violence. This again is surprising. Perhaps the restraint of a joint house hold gives way in a nuclear family. This can be the only reason for this statistic. One may think that women who are educated and employed would be better off. Unfortunately this is not the case. The findings show that 67% of working women were subjugated to domestic violence while unemployed women the ratio was 59%. This shows that working women are apt to be beaten more than women who stay at home and only cook food.
Educated women getting beaten up is surprising. More surprising is the fact that these women accept their lot. This is apparent from the fact that hardly any case is filed under then act of 2004 and there are hardly any convictions under the act.
These figures by the Commission make disturbing reading. Obviously there is some lacuna some where. Thus it is incumbent on the men and the government to start a mass scale education of the rights of women in India, particularly in the rural sector where most of these beatings take place. Perhaps we need another Raja Ram Mohan Roy to bring home the evils of wife beating to all and sundry.