NEW DELHI (AFP) - Six out of 10 Indian men admit they have acted violently against their wives or girlfriends, with those facing financial difficulties more likely to carry out abuse, a study released Monday said.
Some 52 percent of women surveyed across the country reported suffering some form of physical, emotional or sexual violence in their lifetime, including being kicked, hit, choked and burned, the study said.
The report by the UN World Population Fund and the Washington-based International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) underscores the high rates of abuse facing women in the deeply patriarchal country.
"The study puts a spotlight on the high prevalence of intimate partner violence in India," the study said.
"Regardless of age, men who experience economic stress were more likely to have perpetrated violence ever or in the past 12 months," according to the study called "Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference".
"Educated men and women who were 35 years old or more were less likely to perpetrate or experience violence," it also said.
India has faced intense scrutiny in recent years in the wake of a series of high-profile rapes that have unleashed a wave of public anger against its violent treatment of women.
The fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in Delhi in December 2012 sparked massive street protests and led to tougher laws for sexual offenders.
Despite the laws, horrific violence against women continues to hit the headlines on a daily basis, with experts stressing the need to better educate young men about the importance of sexual equality and respect.
The study is based on interviews with more than 9,000 men and 3,000 women aged 18 to 49 and conducted across seven Indian states.
"We need a holistic approach to tackling violence and deeply ingrained harmful norms," ICRW regional director Ravi Verma said in a blog post on the centre's website.
"It is imperative that we reach boys at the early stages of childhood to teach them healthy and non-violent forms of masculinity while their identities are being formed."