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Mainstream, VOL LI No 22, May 18, 2013

Rapid Spread of Liquor Vends Increases Violence against Women

Saturday 18 May 2013, by Bharat Dogra



While various aspects of violence against women have been widely discussed in recent times, one very significant reason for the worsening of this problem has not received the necessary attention. The reference here is to the rapid proliferation of liquor vends in most parts of the country, reaching even remote villages. Social activists and women’s organisations have repeatedly warned that this, apart from causing many other problems, is increasing the insecurity of women and raising significantly the possi-bility of violence against women.

In this context a judgement by a Delhi Court is being regarded as very significant. While sentencing a rapist who was under the influence of liquor, Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said on January 25: “It has to be acknowledged that there is a definite link between the consumption of alcohol particularly caffeinated alcohol (substance abuse) and rise in crime including those relating to aggressive sexual behaviour and the State cannot shy away from its responsibility. The situation in India is still emerging and substance abuse is common in slum clusters in all urban localities. Most violent crimes, including crimes of sexual nature, have witnessed concomitant substance abuse (consumption of alcohol doped with nicotine, caffeine or other substances which is much more dangerous than alcohol abuse alone).”

This judgement went on to say that though the constitutional mandate provides that the endeavour of the State is to bring about prohibition yet “the issue relating to alcohol consumption does not appear to be high on the priority of the State and perhaps it is for this reason that manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol falls within the direct purview and jurisdiction of the Department of Industries whereas the Food and Drugs Department or even the Home Department appears to be having nothing or very little to do with the same and this, I am pained to observe, is despite all serious concerns being raised regarding health, safety and security of the citizens.”

Here it may be pointed out that studies of the World Health Organisation have also found that areas of higher liquor consumption have recorded higher incidence of violence against women. On the other hand it was observed that when the consumption and easy availability of liquor was reduced or curtailed, incidence of violence against women also came down.

As the government prepares a comprehensive policy to reduce violence against women, carefuly regulating the availability of liquor (particularly stopping the proliferation of liquor vends in rural areas) should get adequate attention in this policy.

Bharat Dogra
C-27 Raksha Kunj, Paschim Vihar,
New Delhi-110063
Tel: 25255303

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