Indian women are strongly at risk of domestic violence (one-third having experienced violence, and 9% having had sexual violence) and in Bangladesh violence against women is also common. Among the precursors to violence are the tensions both women and men feel about the contradictory expectations societies lay upon women: to be bearers of honour and modernity; and yet also to be traditional housewives.
We analyse the attitudes for all-India and for Bangladesh, bringing into direct comparison attitudes about the justifiability of wife-beating (a private matter? Indians being more accepting of it, overall), and attitudes toward household decision making (Bangladesh residents being more pro-women or egalitarian in their views). We find these attitudes diverse, showing that not all individuals agree with the social norms, and in turn more egalitarian attitudes are associated with women engaging in modern, salaried, or causal labouring on a commercial (paid) basis. Other women, working in the home or farm, tend to have more traditional attitudes. In conclusion the social norms affect economic activity rates.