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Wednesday, 24 November, 1999, 02:49 GMT
Wives abused in India
Abuse is particularly common among men having extramarital affairs

By Toby Murcott of BBC Science

A survey in northern India has found that nearly half of husbands interviewed abused their wives either physically or sexually.

The report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind carried out in India.

Violence against women is increasingly being recognised as a global health care problem.

Studies from a variety of countries around the world suggest that between 17% and 60% of women face some form of abuse from their husbands.

The data in this study, one of the biggest of its kind, comes from more than 6,000 men who were interviewed privately in their homes over a period of two years in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

In total, 46% of the men interviewed said they either beat their wives or abused them sexually.

Link with Aids

The survey, led by Dr Sandra Martin of the University of North Carolina in the USA, also showed that abuse was more common among men who had extramarital affairs as well as those in rural communities or of lower social standing.

Dr Martin said this sexual abuse could be the reason for the increase in HIV infection - the virus that causes Aids - among monogamous Indian women.

These new findings highlight the problem in northern India, and Dr Martin recommends that health care professionals should be aware of the possibility that women in their care had been abused.

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See also:
14 Dec 98 |  South Asia
Indian parliament introduces women's bill

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