83% Women In Odisha Justify Refusing Sex To Husband, 70% Men Okay With It!

New Delhi: Is a woman justified in refusing sex to her husband? A raging question amid debate over the criminalisation of marital rape had some positive responses with regards to ‘consent’ as an enabling factor in gender equality in National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21). The findings show that a majority of women (80%) and men (66%) in India believe that a woman is justified in refusing sex to her husband for any or all of these three reasons — if he has a sexually transmitted disease; he has sex with another woman; or because she is tired/not in the mood.

The question on women’s empowerment in a section on ‘attitudes towards negotiating safer sexual relations with husband’ was posed to women and men in the age group of 15-49 years and four of five women and men agreed with each of these reasons, The NFHS-5 report, released last week by Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, said.

This is an increase of 12 percentage points for women (from 68%) and three percentage points for men (63%) since NFHS-4 (2015-16).

In Odisha, 82.9% of women and 69.6% of men agreed with all the three reasons, while 13% of men refused to buy these. While 88.3% of women said that it is ok for a wife to refuse sex when she is tired, 88.5% agreed with regard to sexually transmitted diseases and 88.1% if he had sex with another woman. But 6.6% of women did not agree with any of these reasons.

According to the survey, four in five women (82%) can say no to their husband if they do not want to have sexual intercourse. In Odisha, 83.6% of respondents agreed with the ability of a woman to negotiate sexual relations with her husband.

“…only 6 per cent of men age 15-49 agree that men have the right to get angry and reprimand her, refuse to give her money or other means of financial support, use force and have sex with her even if she doesn’t want to, and go and have sex with another woman if a wife refuses him sex, and 72 per cent do not agree with any of the four behaviours,” the survey stated.

However, 19 per cent of men do agree that a husband has the right to get angry and reprimand a woman if she refuses to have sex with her husband.

In Odisha, 81.7% disagreed with these behaviours while 0.6% thought otherwise.

However, 45% of women and 44% of men believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife if she goes out without telling him; neglects the house or the children; argues with him; refuses to have sex with him; doesn’t cook food properly; suspects her of being unfaithful; or shows disrespect to her in-laws.

While women justifying wife beating has declined by seven percentage points from 52%, it is up by two percentage points from 42% in the case of men.

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