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Indian women can have rights, but men must get the jobs, finds Pew study

Pew surveyed 30,000 Indians between 2019 and 2020; it said nearly nine in ten adults agreed that a “a wife must always obey her husband”.

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New Delhi: It was okay for women to have the same rights as men, but men must get most of the jobs, a Pew Research Center report found while surveying Indian attitudes towards gender roles.

Thirty thousand adult Indians in this face-to-face study unanimously agreed that it was important for women to have equal rights as men, but if it came to a job crunch, 80 per cent said “men should have more right to a job than women”.

In terms of economic responsibilities, 54 per cent Indians believed both should earn while 43 per cent said earning bread was the main obligation of men.

In the context of moral or ethical obligations, nearly nine in ten completely or mostly agreed that a “a wife must always obey her husband”.

Politically, Indians have no problem accepting women as their leaders. Fifty-five per cent of adults said both men as well as women make equally good political leaders. Fourteen per cent believed that women usually make better leaders, and about a quarter of those surveyed favoured men.

To keep traditional gender roles or break them?

The survey found that most Indians agree both sexes should share family responsibilities, but many still supported traditional gender roles. The research noted that 62 per cent of adults say both men, women must take care of children. But 34 per cent said responsibilities such as child care should be handled primarily by women.

An overwhelming majority of Indian adults said it was important that families have both sons and daughters. A good share of those surveyed, however, were accepting of sex-selective abortion. Ninety-four per cent think it was absolutely important to have at least one son and, separately, a daughter (90 per cent). “Son preference” is common and historically prevalent in India. An enduring practice of this bias has been the sex-selective abortions, which are illegal. Roughly 53 per cent adults think this practice was either somewhat or completely unacceptable.

Sons were also seen by 63 per cent Hindus as someone primarily responsible for their parents’ last rites or burial. The number was 74 per cent for Muslims, and 67 per cent for Jains.

However, Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists said both sons and daughters should be responsible, and very few, regardless of religion, said daughters should conduct funeral rituals.

It was also found Muslims were more likely than other Indians to support traditional gender roles in families, followed by Sikhs.

Women’s safety

The Pew research found that Indians favour teaching boys to respect women as a way to improve women’s safety. Roughly three-quarters of Indian adults (76 per cent) think violence against women was a pressing and “very big problem” in the country.

Cases registered under “crimes against women” nearly doubled between 2010 and 2019. About 51 per cent Indians agreed it was more important to teach boys to respect women, while roughly 26 per cent thought it was important to teach girls to behave appropriately. The remaining (about a quarter of Indians) refused to take a clear position and suggested proper policing would improve the situation, or that women were “already safe”.

Indians stick to traditions

It was found that compared to other countries, Indians were more conservative and liked traditional practices and roles. Only one out of 61 countries surveyed had a higher share than India in believing that men should have greater right to a job than women. And just two out of 34 countries surveyed were ahead of India in the belief that a marriage was more satisfying if the husband provided for the family and the wife took care of the house and children.

The percentage of Indians who took this view was 40, well above the global median of 23 per cent.

Also read: ‘4,000 nudes’ of over 200 women — why Delhi Police has arrested Noida-based market analyst

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