More than two-thirds of married women in India aged between 15 and 49 have been beaten, raped or forced to provide sex
For the first time, women in India have legal protection against abuse in their own homes under a law which came into force yesterday. It is the first time Indian law has recognised marital rape, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse of a woman by her husband as crimes. India is a country where the streets are safe - but a woman is not safe inside her own home.
There is a remarkably low rate of violent crime against strangers in most of the big cities, and it is safe to walk the streets of Mumbai or Bangalore late at night. But every six hours, a young married woman is burnt to death, beaten to death, or driven to suicide by emotional abuse from her husband, figures show.
More than two-thirds of married women in India aged between 15 and 49 have been beaten, raped or forced to provide sex, according to the UN Population Fund.
One of the most common causes of violence against women is dowry-related. In most of India, women's families are still expected to provide their husbands with dowries when they marry.
Husbands - or their families - who are dissatisfied with the dowry beat, emotionally abuse and often even kill the women.
Last year 6,787 cases were recorded of women murdered by their husbands or their husbands' families because of their dowries. Many die in "stove burnings": set alight by husbands or in-laws who then claim it was a kitchen accident.
Domestic violence against women is already illegal, under a 1983 law. But the new law marks the first time India has recognised marital rape. Previously it was impossible to prosecute a man for raping his wife, which was considered to be within his conjugal rights.
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