NEW DELHI: As India entered phase-3 of the lockdown on Monday due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, women who already face domestic violence may have to suffer more for the government's decision to open liquor shops, according to women's rights activists.
Speaking to IANS, social activist and Director of the Centre for Social Research (CSR), Dr. Ranjana Kumari said, "According to the government's own National Family Health survey data, there is a direct link between alcohol use and violence by men. So certainly it will escalate. Already there are two times more cases of domestic violence reported to the NCW."
She added that there was a rise in the number of women calling for help.
"We have also received more calls at our counselling centre than usual. In the past 30 days we have received 27 calls. Opening liquor shops may be a revenue generating thing but at a time when people have lost their jobs, incomes have gone down there is already economic stress in the families, alcohol is not the best choice that the government is giving to the people. It will cut into the economy of the family in terms of using money. Instead of buying better health products men will use money in buying alcohol," Kumari said.
Another women's rights activist Shamina Shafiq told IANS that there are chances that women and children will fall prey to domestic violence due to alcohol consumption by men.
"This is hundred percent true. The government is already insensitive towards the rights of women now this step will add to the plight of women and children who face domestic violence. We already saw a rise in such cases in lockdown one and two and now in lockdown 3.0, it will be even worse. Men who are alcoholic, will snatch the money that women have saved for difficult times and will buy liquor. They will get drunk and will beat women and children at home." said Shafiq.
She added that "people are already facing financial difficulty these days. They are already frustrated due to various reasons like job loss, financial problems etc. This will just add fuel to the fire.
They will vent it all out on women and kids. I fail to understand what is stopping the government to lay down guidelines for security forces for taking cognizance of such crimes? Why can't they just go and check homes where such cases are frequent?" asked Shafiq.
Another women's rights activist Yogita Bhayana told IANS that it is a strange decision taken by the government. She said this will not just escalate crimes against women and children but also other kinds of crimes like snatching, robberies etc.
"I don't understand how the government considers alcohol as essential service? Addiction can never be essential. In fact this lockdown situation was a perfect opportunity for the government to utilise it for de-addiction."
Bhayana said the government could only think of it as a revenue generation source but did not notice what benefits there are from its closure. "If this source of revenue generation has been given an opportunity why not others?" she asked.
"Whenever we talk about domestic or sexual violence it is directly related to liquor. During lockdown the violence on women multiplied. When a woman is between the four walls with her abuser, violence against women will aggravate."
She added that crimes like marital rapes may increase. "Liquor consumption can cause more marital rapes as well. Even poor states have witnessed crowds outside liquor shops. I don't know from where they are getting money during this economic stress to buy alcohol.
This is pure hypocrisy. Not just this, addicts may steal jewellery or other precious things and will beat women for money. I agree that it is one of the highest revenue generating item but the government is not seeing how many murders, rapes and other crimes happen due to alcohol."