Over 45 days and India has been under the nation wide lock down, a reaction to the scare of Corona virus. As a few cities recently opened, one is stuck by the long and very long ques outside the liquor shops. On the morning of the first day of the announcement and the men could be seen standing in lines even before the shops were open.
Liquor consumption has been considerably high in India. In 2016, the annual liquor consumption was of about 5.4 billion liters and had every conducive circumstance to increase over the coming years. The correlation between domestic violence and consumption of liquor has been widely researched and the result has been that of a direct and positive co-relation. We work with migrants families and have enough direct evidence to support this co-relation. Every other household has the history of men consuming liquor and indulge in wife abuse. The children in many families tell us - My father beats my mother when he comes home drunk every night.
On seeing the long ques outside the liquor shops, i was thinking what did these men do when they were stuck at home with no alcohol available to them? How did they cope up with their addiction all these days? Their incomes are not high so they cant buy liquor in bulk. They would buy a small quantity each time when the day ends. During lock down, these men were at home with wife and children, forced not to go out and therefore, stay without liquor.
- How the family situation ought to be when the male is frustrated and is striving for liquor?
- Would the women not be more vulnerable to violence and abuse of this man? Would she not be the first one on whom the man would vent out his anger and frustration?
Lots of questions but with only one answer. That's YES, it would be so.
Domestic violence is not a new phenomenon. However women have had the option of walking out of an abusive partner! She could complain to the women Helplin. She could seek help from the neighbours/community.
During lock down, all the above options were closed. The women Helplines received a very fewer distressed calls which may mean that getting away from the abuser may be difficult for the women during the confinement day after day. Making a phone call for help may not just be possible. Over and above, the children witness the domestic violence and marital discord day in and day out which has a very negative impact on their psyche.
My take over the whole scenario is about the political leadership. India has a strong government at the center. The Prime Minister's words are taken seriously by one and all. His instructions are followed in letter and spirit. So when he makes a call for nation wide lock down on national Television channels, Can he send a message to our men as -
" Its now time for us, the men to show complete solidarity and stand by the women of the house. The men need to be Equal partners now that the household responsibilities are going to increase due to lock down and lets ensure Happy Families".
Can he include the message of gender equality at the time when he sees that this difficult time may be used to turn the tables by making men equally responsible in household transactions and respecting women for their 24 hours role at home.
I wonder, Why is our Prime Minister not even mentioning this aspect during his national address? Is this subject not important or relevant to be referred to while addressing the people?
We have emphasized the need for political will to bring about the much awaited gender equality in our homes. Now the time is just Right! Let the political leadership give the message of gender equality and refer to it in strong words. His address would have an impact on people, I am sure about that.