Shut Liquor Shops: Karnataka Women Send Money to CM Yediyurappa

Over 1,200 women across Karnataka have sent money orders from Rs 5-10 to the CM and plan to do so every coming week

3 min read
Aggrieved women line up outside a post office in Karnataka’s Bidar to send money orders to CM BS Yediyurappa over restarting the sale of liquor in the third phase of the lockdown.

From 18 May, over 1,200 women from different districts in Karnataka have sent approximately Rs 12,000 in money orders ranging from Rs 5-50 to chief minister BS Yediyurappa, as a sign of protest over the sale of liquor being resumed in the state since Lockdown 3.0.

Since then, hundreds of women from villages in Bagalkote, Raichur, Mysuru, Ballari, Yadgir, Bidar among others, have sent in their symbolic contributions as part of an appeal to ban on sale of liquor in the state.

These women plan to do so every Monday, with the support of the Madhya Nishedha Andolana, the organization working for a complete ban on liquor in the state.

“It is to tell the CM that if he desires revenue, the rural women of Karnataka are ready to contribute, but please stop the sale of liquor in the state. The lockdown period actually resulted in a calmer and more peaceful time for many families, when there was no liquor available.”
Swarna Bhat, Madhya Nishedha Andolana

From construction labourers to daily wagers and stay-at-home moms, women of all ages and backgrounds have come forward to send a part of their meagre earnings amid coronavirus for the cause.

‘Alcohol Shops are Open But There Are no Jobs’

Mutamma, a 24-year-old working as a daily wager doing odd jobs in a Bidar village, said that the few months of respite during the lockdown was a welcome change.

With her father not able to find work since the lockdown, she says he has started drinking regularly at home. “For the last year, he has a drinking problem. When the shops were closed, we were happy but now the issue has started again and now he is drinking every day,” she said.

An activist with the Madhya Nishedha Andolana, Mutamma said she had helped women from 15-20 families send money to the CM. “They contributed as much as they could. Nobody has a lot of money now,” she said.

34-year-old Vijayalakshmi from Hungund Taluk in Bagalkote, has a similar story to share about her husband. “I have sent Rs 50 so far and will send it every week. They men in our families demand Rs 500 per week just to drink away, so we don’t mind giving Rs 50 if they will shut the stores. Addicts will drink anywhere and everywhere. Now instead of bars, they drink at home,” she said.

She added that it is women who suffer, when men drink all the household money away. She said that it was also resulting in domestic violence.

A Revenue at the Cost of Our Lives?

Saira Banu, a 39-year-old woman from a Bagalokote village, said that she had seen alcohol destroy lives around her for years.

“It was much better when the shops were closed, there was less fighting in homes. Now, even youngsters drink and come home. And everywhere women have to take care of the situation. Even though we all barely have any earnings during this period, we are sending what we can, regardless of amount. We only want to highlight the issue,” she said.

Saira Banu
Saira Banu
(Photo: The Quint)

‘Our Alcohol Policy is not Based in Public health’

Dr Pratima Murthy, head of psychiatry at NIMHANS in Bengaluru and a de-addiction expert, said that while the initial phase of the lockdown has seen a sharp rise in severe withdrawal symptoms, these had reduced considerably with time.

“People need to understand that addiction is a real medical problem and needs help. Unfortunately, we don’t have a coherent alcohol policy based in public health. Not just reopening shops, there should also be mechanisms to help treat addictions as in India, as 80% of people don’t get treated for alcohol dependence,” she said.

Dr Murthy also added that the unintended consequences of reopening liquor sales like emotional problems, domestic abuse, etc, were often sidelined in favour of the fact that it was a source of revenue for the government.

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