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Indian men most sexually violent, says survey of six developing nations

Twenty-four per cent of Indian men have committed sexual violence at some point in their lives, 20% forced their partners to have sex with them, and only 17% of Indian men could be considered ‘highly equitable’, reveals a survey of six developing countries

India ranked last of six developing countries on the Gender Equitable Men scale in a survey by the Centre of Research on Women, US, and Instituto Promundon in Brazil.

The International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) is a comprehensive household questionnaire on men’s attitudes and practices -- along with women’s opinions and reports of men’s practices -- on a wide variety of topics related to gender equality.

According to the survey, 24% of Indian men have committed sexual violence at some point in their lives and 20% admitted to having forced their wives or partners to have sex. In contrast, only 2% of Brazilian men and 9% of men in Chile, Rwanda, Croatia and Mexico have indulged in sexual violence.

The findings suggest that men in all countries except India and Rwanda support more equitable relationships and opportunities between women and men. Age plays a factor too, with young men showing more support for gender equality and more just treatment of women. Among its results, the study also found that men who view women as their equals are more likely to be happy, communicate well with their partners and have better sex lives.

Researchers interviewed 8,000 men and 3,500 women in these six countries on topics such as gender-based violence, health and health-related practices, household division of labour, men’s participation in caregiving and as fathers, men’s and women’s attitudes about gender and gender-related policies, transactional sex, men’s reports of criminal behaviour, and quality of life.

Only 17% of Indian men made it to the highly equitable gender-just category. While Croatia topped with 82% ‘gender-just’ men, more than 50% of men in Brazil, Chile and Mexico made the grade. Rwanda, which is among the least developed nations in the world, fared better than India, with 30% of males qualifying as ‘highly equitable’.

Rwanda and India had the highest rates of domestic violence, with 38% of men admitting they had physically abused their partners. Worse, more than 65% of Indian men also believed that women should tolerate violence to keep the family together and that women sometimes deserved to be beaten. A high 84% of Indian men who had paid sex suspected the sex worker was a minor.

Though Indian men were the most sexually and physically violent at home, they were not involved in violent or criminal behaviour outside. Only 4% of Indian men had participated in a robbery, and 7% had been involved in a fight with weapons, compared to 36% of men in Croatia and 22% of men in Brazil.

Indian men are great believers in gender-based segregation of work with 86% thinking that changing diapers, bathing and feeding children is a woman’s job. Almost an equal number don’t participate in household work. In Rwanda, among the least developed countries in the world, 61% considered child-care a woman’s duty, a big improvement on India, while around half the men interviewed in the other countries -- Brazil, Chile, Croatia and Mexico -- said they played an equal or greater role in one or more domestic chores.

Moreover, roughly 80% of Indian men say they should have the final word on decisions in the house. This ‘I-am-the-boss attitude’ seemed less prevalent in all other countries, especially Croatia and Mexico where only 20% of men wanted to dominate.

Vibhuti Patel, a women’s rights activist and head of the economics department at SNDT University in Mumbai blamed the repression of sexuality in India for the high rate of sexual violence. All the other countries surveyed have more sexual freedom than India, she pointed out.

Source:, March 2011