Feb 11, 2016

Tribal women slap fines on hubbys, sons, enforce ban on liquor in Chhattisgarh

Source : Times of India


Kampraj (Gariaband district, Chhattisgarh): Fed up with their own traditional culture of brewing liquor for personal use and getting beaten up by men at home, tribal women folk in remote villages here have declared a war on alcoholism—imposing a full blown ban on manufacture and consumption of 'mahua' brew—identifying it as a major cause of domestic violence.

TOI travelled to Gariaband district and found that alcoholic men in more than 17 villages in the area are now facing the music as women, fighting immense adverse situations, are also slapping fines on their husbands and sons.

Women in tribal villages were carrying physical and economic burden for the family due to jobless and drunk men where 99 percent of population was stuck in flood of liquor right from morning including, youths and elderly people. Situation went worse when men started selling off utensils and women's clothes to get alcohol while children stopped going to school and were found freaking around drunk.

Thagiya Bai and Lalita Bai of Pendra village giggled as they recalled how they ambushed and raided racket which was siphoning off money from NREGA for drinking. While the men were pounced from all ends, among them Thagiabai's son who had accompanied her for the raid was also rounded up in the ensuing chaos as he had snatched a bottle of liquor from men.

"Without arguing in defense I slapped fine on my son of Rs 1051, inspired through which have brought a wave of change in village. Women here don't come before men let alone touch them, but Lalitabai also grabbed the bottle from her husband's elder brother during the raid," Thagia said.

Armed with canes, the groups of women are often seen raiding each and every house to find if liquor was being brewed inside or was anyone drunk. Those found violating the rule are fined between Rs 500 to 10,000 depending on repetition of offense. Mahua and alcohol are then collected at one place and put on fire in front of whole village. Women groups also charge fine of Rs 50 upon women who do not attend meetings. They have collected Rs 1,30,000 lakh which they plan to utilize in development of men and women in distress.

It all started in 2014 when a local NGO Lok Astha went into interiors to find the reasons for no cases being reported on violence on women from tribal belt of Chhura block dominated by Gond, Kamar and Bhunjia tribes. "Women didn't realize they were not meant to be beaten up after whole day's work at home at workplace just because their men were drunk. Others felt ashamed of it but eventually awareness camps on women empowerment brought exceptional realizations to their life," said Lata Netam of Lok Astha in Gariaband.

Banning alcohol at Maliyar village dominated by Kamar tribes was the biggest challenge where every event, each day began and ended with mahua but one incident of molestation with a young girl at a lonely home lead to rage among women in this village which was later supported by men as well.

Dhirjabai Kamarin was the one who lead the show and went revolutionary against those who opposed. "Once a janpad member challenged me that I would never be able to put a ban here, if I do, he promised to give me Rs 1000 as reward, which he never did," Dhirjabai said.

Supported by Oxfam India the women are sent to Gujarat for training where they are made aware about the laws on domestic violence. Anu Verma, programme officer, (gender justice) of Oxfam said the agency supports Lok Astha as partner on field and is working on various issues on advocacy with government, demanding policy changes, amendments and assistance for spreading awareness.

Written By: Rashmi Drolia

Source: Times of india

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