Violence Against Women

UNFPA Press Release: UNFPA-ICRW Study Deconstructs The Mind Of The ‘Masculine’ Indian Male

Tue, 11/11/2014

 UNFPA Press Release

A new study, ‘Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India’, by the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, and the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) explores how the average Indian male interprets the idea of ‘masculinity’ and how that shapes his interactions with women and increases his desire for sons.

The study explores two areas that are particularly important in the Indian context: intimate partner violence and son preference. It is well-established that Indian women face social and familial pressures to produce sons, and the failure to do so increases the threat of violence and abandonment in marriage.

Indeed, not all men think, feel or respond in the same way, which is why the study uses a masculinity index to measure the degree of behavioural rigidity, based on the levels of control men practice in intimate relationship and their attitudes towards gender equality.

According to Frederika Meijer, UNFPA India Representative, “Gendered ideas of masculinity and childhood experiences are significant contributing factors behind men using violence. This research identifies alternative expressions of masculinity that offer pointers to effectively engage men and boys in achieving gender equality. It identifies triggers that could enable them to become change agents in addressing gender discrimination.”

Results from the 9,205 men interviewed show that the average India man is convinced that masculinity is about acting tough, freely exercising his privilege to lay down the rules in personal relationships, and, above all, controlling women.

Take a look:

  • One-in-three men surveyed didn’t allow their wives to the wear clothes of their choice.
  • Sixty-six per cent men believed that they had “a greater say than their wife/partner in the important decisions that affect us”.
  • 75 per cent men expected their partners to agree to sex. Moreover, over 50 per cent men didn’t expect their partners to use contraceptives without their permission.

Clearly, “being a real man” is characterised by authority, while a woman has to prove her femininity with qualities of “tolerance and acceptance”. The study shows that often a departure from these mannerisms could provoke a violent reaction from men.

Sure enough, the study shows a very high prevalence of intimate partner violence in India. Around two-out-of-five men from the seven study states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya

Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Punjab and Haryana were found to be ‘rigidly masculine’ in their attitude and behaviour, as they firmly stated that women should neither be seen nor heard.

What’s more, 60 per cent admitted to using violence to assert their dominance over their partner if she wanted to step out of her traditional roles or was unable to meet the expectation of bearing a son. In fact, more than half - 52 per cent - of the 3,158 women surveyed talked about experiencing some form of violence during their lifetime, with 38 per cent suffering physical violence, including being kicked, beaten, slapped, choked and burned, and 35 per cent were subjected to emotional violence, including insults, intimidation and threats. While Odisha and Uttar Pradesh emerged as the states with the highest incidence of intimate partner violence at 75 per cent, Punjab and Haryana followed at 43 per cent and Maharashtra at 37 per cent.

“The study reaffirms and demonstrates that addressing inequitable gender norms and masculinity issues are at the heart of tackling root causes of intimate partner violence and son preference,” states Luis Mora, Chief, Gender-Human Rights and Culture, UNFPA.

If men with discriminatory gender views are more inclined to physically abusing their partner, then they are also the ones more likely to want sons, affirms the study. Boys are preferred in many Indian families as they stand to inherit property, carry forward the family lineage and participate in specific religious rituals. Census 2011 data reveals the child sex ratio in the country has dropped from 927 girls per 1,000 boys to an all-time low of 918. Examining the extent of son preference, the study measured daughter discrimination and finds that over a third of the men and women show both high daughter discriminatory and son preferring attitudes.

Undoubtedly, the traditional construct of masculinity increases the tendency for violence and son preference among men. In order to be able to enlist them to become a part of the solution and not the problem, a couple of factors need to be taken into account. Firstly, the study catalogues economic stress as a major trigger for both violence against women and the desire for sons. A crisis that threatens their position as the primary providers at times prompts them to use violence to gain control. Simultaneously, it reiterates their belief that more male children can guarantee better financial security.

The other aspect that plays an essential part in intensifying conventional masculine attitudes is childhood experiences. The more men witness their father exercising greater control at home in their formative years, the less likely they are to develop gender equitable attitudes. Says Ravi Verma, Regional Director, ICRW-Asia, “The findings of the study are extremely clear on lasting impact of the childhood experiences. It is high time we begin to seriously think how we wish to bring up our boys and also present ourselves as adults to younger ones within the families.”

The Masculinity study makes an urgent call for developing policies that build men’s confidence to behave differently. Two solutions that offer promise of real transformation are: breaking the cycle of discrimination by reaching out to young boys with alternative ideas of masculinity, that are not based on power or authority; and ensuring quality education for both sexes along with ensuring women’s access to income.

Mission Statement: 

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is the lead UN agency for delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and every young person's potential is fulfilled. UNFPA expands the possibilities for women and young people to lead healthy and productive lives. UNFPA started working in 1969, the number – and rate – of women dying from complications of pregnancy or childbirth has been halved. Families are smaller and healthier. Young people are more connected and empowered than ever before.

Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India

Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India

Priya Nanda, Abhishek Gautam, RaviVerma, Aarushi Khanna, Nizamuddin Khan, Dhanashri Brahme, Shobhana Boyle & Sanjay Kumar

In-depth research on gender, power and masculinity and various programmatic efforts to engage men have made it abundantly clear that men and boys must be an integral part of efforts to promote gender equality. This is especially relevant in India, where caste, class and linguistic ethnicity have tremendous influence on how men construct their sense of masculinity and define what it means to be a “real man” or what is expected of them. Recent research suggests that men’s attitudes and more broadly, masculinity, perpetuate son preference and to some extent, intimate partner violence in India.
With this in mind, ICRW conducted research, surveying a total of 9,205 men and 3,158 women, aged 18-49 in the following seven states across India: Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra.
The study findings emphasize that in India, masculinity, i.e., men’s controlling behavior and gender inequitable attitudes, strongly determines men’s preference for sons over daughters as well as their proclivity for violence towards an intimate partner – both of which are manifestations of gender inequality. Masculine control in women’s lives affects their own experiences of intimate partner violence and preference for sons. The study finds that ultimately eliminate son preference and intimate partner violence in India, it is critical to develop and implement national policies and programs that involve men in promoting gender equity and diminishing socio-cultural and religious practices thatreinforce gender discrimination.
(1.96 MB)

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Gender and Violence: New research from Roma and Pakistan and the IMAGES Survey

October 29, 2014


Jennifer Leaning, Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights; Director of the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Jacqueline Bhabha, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard School of Public Health; Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer, Harvard Law School; University Adviser on Human Rights Education; Director of Research, François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights

Brian Heilman, Gender and Evaluation Specialist at the International Center for Research on Women.

The event is cosponsored by the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights (FXB), Harvard School of Public Health, and Academic Ventures, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

For more information, please visit the Harvard University's South Asia Institute website. 

Wed, 10/29/2014 - 4:30pm - 6:00pm
Center for Government and International Studies, South (CGIS)
1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA
United States
François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights (FXB), Harvard School of Public Health, and Academic Ventures, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Law, Justice and Development Week 2014



  • Andrew Novak, Adjunct Professor, International and Comparative Criminal Justice, George Mason University
  • Shingira Masanzu, Associate Counsel, Africa and Middle East & North Africa, Legal Vice Presidency, World Bank


  • Jared Genser, Managing Director, Perseus Strategies and Adjunct Professor, Georgetown Law School 
  • Stella Mukasa, Director, Gender, Violence and Rights, International Center for Research on Women
  • Angela M. Banks, Cabell Research Professor of Law, William & Mary Law School

For more information, visit the World Bank's LJD Week website. 

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 9:00am - 10:30am
World Bank Headquarters, Preston Auditorium
United States

How Empowering Girls Can Help End Child Marriage

Mon, 09/15/2014
Trust Women

In a piece for the Trust Women website, ICRW's Ann Warner, Senior Youth and Gender Specialist, writes about a new ICRW report exhibiting how empowering girls can help end child marriage, highlighting case studies from four countries.

In a piece for the Trust Women website, ICRW's Ann Warner, Senior Youth and Gender Specialist, writes about a new ICRW report exhibiting how empowering girls can help end child marriage, highlighting case studies from four countries.

The Making of Sexual Violence

The Making of Sexual Violence
How Does a Boy Grow Up to Commit Rape?

Brian Heilman, Luciana Hebert, Nastasia Paul-Gera

Women and girls around the world experience staggering levels of rape and other forms of sexual violence.This violence devastates lives, unhinges communities, and hampers greater social and economic development. While the severity, frequency, and purpose of this violence can broaden during times of conflict or emergency, its foundations are laid during “peacetime,” as is underscored by the extreme levels of violence observed consistently across the globe. Yet it is only in recent decades that policymakers, researchers, and programmers have begun to pay closer attention to this urgent violation of human rights and barrier to sustainable development.
This report presents an overview of five study sites of the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES), presents findings related to men’s self-reported perpetration of sexual violence, investigates seven domains of possible influences on men’s sexual violence perpetration and provides actionable lessons and recommendations.
(4.97 MB)

We encourage the use and dissemination of our publications for non-commercial, educational purposes. Portions may be reproduced with acknowledgment to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). For questions, please contact; or (202) 797-0007.

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ICRW to Co-Host Panel with Girl Rising

ICRW will be partnering with Girl Rising to co-host a panel, focused on gender-based violence and early marriage, at the UK's Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict,


Tara Abrahams
Girl Rising

Sarah Degnan Kambou,
International Center for Research on Women

Tue, 06/10/2014 - 3:30pm - 4:30pm
ExCel London
Royal Victoria Dock 1 Western Gateway
United Kingdom

Does Engaging Men and Boys Lead to Gender Equality? Changing The Rules in the Balkans

On June 16, ICRW, CARE, and Promundo will announce the findings of a new report on engaging men and boys in the Balkans. The report focuses on the lessons from the last seven years of programming with a coalition of local, regional, and international organizations that encourages positive masculine identities under the banner of the “Young Men Initiative” (YMI).

Doris Bartel (Moderator)
Senior Director for Gender and Empowerment, CARE
John Crownover
Young Men Initiative Program Advisor, CARE International in the Balkans
Brian Heilman
Gender and Evaluation Specialist, International Center for Research on Women
Gary Barker
International Director and Founder, Promundo
Mon, 06/16/2014 - 9:30am - 11:00am
1825 I St. NW 12th Floor Conference Center, Room 12C
Washington, DC
United States

Priti Prabhughate

Technical Specialist, Gender and HIV

Dr. Priti Prabhughate is a Senior Technical Specialist at the International Center for Research on Women’s (ICRW), Asia Regional Office. In this role, she functions as a thematic lead on HIV-related research, by designing studies on HIV and parallel topics such as stigma and discrimination. She also provides technical support across teams in managing projects, developing tools, and supporting data evaluation and analysis.  

Priti has more than seven years of research experience in the fields of HIV/AIDS, sexuality, stigma and discrimination, gender-based violence and sexual health – with a special focus on working with sexual minority communities in India. She has experience in building capacity, designing and conducting research with community researchers using participatory learning tools, and using evidence to conduct advocacy with stakeholders, such as health providers and law enforcement.

Priti also brings extensive training in psychology and social work, which equips her with a psychosocial perspective in understanding various phenomena. Her training in human behavior and application of its various theories to research helps her conceptualize research topics in a broad ecological framework. It is this aspect of her work that she is most enthusiastic about since it allows her to conceptualize, plan and analyze all of her research activities at multiple levels from the individual to the community level to the structural level.

ICRW’s approach to women’s empowerment is particularly resonant for Priti as a researcher. Her various research projects on HIV and on stigma in particular, have framed gender as a structural factor that disempowers women and discriminates against women at multiple levels.

Prior to joining ICRW in 2011, Priti worked with the Mumbai community-based organization Humsafar Trust, a male sexual health agency that seeks to prevent HIV among the gay, bisexual and transgender population. She functioned in multiple roles during her professional career at Humsafar, from counselor to ultimately leading the research unit at Humsafar Trust, where she played a pivotal role in guiding setting up IRB at the organization and developing proposals to international donors for research on sexual minority communities.

During her career, Priti has worked with international donors such as the National Institutes of Mental Health and United Nations Development Program as well as Indian government departments such as the National AIDS Control Organization and local partners, including Humsafar Trust, Swasti and St. Xavier’s College.

Contact Priti at pprabhughate@icrw.organd follow her on Twitter @pritiprabhughate


HIV and AIDS, Violence Against Women, Advocacy and Policy Engagement

Languages Spoken: 

English (fluent), Hindi (fluent), Marathi (fluent), Konkani (fluent). Kannada (proficient), Gujarati (proficient) and German (proficient). 


Priti holds a doctorate in social work from the University of Illinois-Chicago and a master’s in social work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. She also holds a master’s in psychiatric social work from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences in Bangalore, and a bachelor’s in psychology from Mumbai University.

Safe Cities Free From Violence Against Women and Girls: Baseline Finding from the "Safe Cities Delhi Programme"

Safe Cities Free From Violence Against Women and Girls: Baseline Finding from the "Safe Cities Delhi Programme"

Nandita Bhatla, Pranita Achyut, Sancheeta Ghosh, Abhishek Gautam, Ravi Verma

In 2010, UN Women launched the “Global Programme on Safe Cities Free of Violence against Women and Girls,” in partnership with UN-Habitat, leading women’s organizations, and global and local partners in five pilot cities across the world, including Delhi. The aim was to prevent sexual violence in public spaces. The Safe City Delhi Programme is a collaborative effort by UN Women, UN Habitat, the Government of Delhi and the Indian non-governmental organization, Jagori. The International Center for Research on Women is the evaluation partner.

The first systematic household survey on sexual violence in public spaces was conducted in October and November 2012 as part of the evaluation of the Safe Cities programme. The programme baseline survey establishes key benchmark indicators of perceptions, attitudes and behaviours related to sexual violence that will be used in assessing progress after the first two-year phase of this pilot programme.

For the purposes of this study, we asked about a broad range of behaviors and divided the responses into five categories: 1) Sexual harassment (Sexual comments and jokes, whistling, leering or obscene gestures), 2)Flashing/exposing of men’s genitalia, 3)Stalking, 4) touching or groping women’s breasts or buttocks, and 5)sexual assault. (in this context referring to physically aggressive sexual attack) 

(12.77 MB)

We encourage the use and dissemination of our publications for non-commercial, educational purposes. Portions may be reproduced with acknowledgment to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). For questions, please contact; or (202) 797-0007.

Terms and Conditions »

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