The results of the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21) have revealed stark truths about the domestic violence inflicted on women and their muted response towards it, especially in the southern States. About 80% of women in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, said that their husbands were "justified" in beating them if she argued with him, refused to have sex and for other similar reasons*. Kerala was not far behind with 55% women in the State having a similar opinion. Except Manipur (63.5%) no other State's figure crossed the 50% mark. As a result, more than 40% of married women have experienced spousal violence, in Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Karnataka. Only two non-southern States crossed the 40% mark - Bihar and Manipur. Similarly, more than 50% of men in the Southern States felt it was justified to physically abuse their wives. The only other State to cross the 50% mark was Manipur.
Acceptance of domestic violence among Southern women stemmed from the fact that more than 30% of them had witnessed their father beating their mother. Kerala was an exception to this trend in the South with only 8% witnessing such violence. Due to the normalisation of their husband's behaviour, over 65% of women in Southern States neither sought help nor talked about the violence meted out to them. However, this trend was observed across India and not limited to the South. And even among those few who did seek help, a majority in India informed their relatives about their plight and not the concerned authorities. Husband's drinking pattern played a crucial role in the degree of violence. The more he consumed alcohol, the more the abuse.