Honeymoon is supposed to be an exciting period for newly-weds, but for a significant number of them, the very first night turns out to be a nightmare.
A recent sub-national study on physical and sexual violence among married youth showed that 18-30% of the women were subjected to physical violence and 10-54% reported sexual violence. While 49% of young women from the eastern and northern states in India were subjected to forced sex on the wedding night, up to 23% women in the western and southern states went through the ordeal.
The study was carried out by the International Institute for Population Sciences in Mumbai and Population Council in Delhi over a period of two years across six states -- Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. It showed that at least 30% of the 13,912 young married women in the 14-24 years age-group faced physical violence once in their lifetime.
Rajasthan recorded the lowest prevalence of violence. About 27% of the 1,947 women interviewed from Maharashtra faced physical violence in marriage. 'Abusive husbands' of Maharashtra shared the second spot with Jharkhand and Tamil Naidu only after Bihar, as per the study. About 23% of the same women claimed they were victims of recent physical violence.
The study, however, showed that women in Maharashtra reported highest incidence of first violence (14%) within the very first year of marriage as compared to an average 9-7% in other states.
About 23% women from Maharashtra reported forced sex by husbands on the first night whereas corresponding men reported as low as 4%.
"It is surprising that violence was reported even among urban educated couples," said SJ Jejeebhoy, senior associate, population council.
"As against the popular belief, neither marriage nor pregnancy is a protective factor for women in India," said Dr Balaiah Donta, deputy director, National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH).