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Drinking and Domestic Violence

After 41 days of the rigorous lockdown, the government has now imposed the opening of the shutters of liquor shops and the citizens have broken all the social distancing norms. Even though the Ministry of Home Affairs has released a detailed list of rules of liquor shops to follow to function smoothly but no one followed it which later resulted in an increasing number of coronavirus cases in India.

It is a secondary thing for the time being like the opening of liquor shops has now resulted in much more fear in the minds of people and that is intimate partner violence. Alcohol consumption is a major contributor to the occurrence of intimate partner violence and links between the two are manifold. This fact sheet details what is known about the role of alcohol in shaping the extent and impact of intimate partner violence, factors that increase the risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator, and the role of public health in prevention.[1]

The government should have decided a more permanent solution to get its economy back on the track and not on the verge of the human cost that all women have to pay. Many women, especially the marginalized section of the society have constantly requested the government to stop the sale of liquor as it has added more burdens on their shoulders due to the increase of violence they are facing their homes.

Several women came together and also requested the state to keep their wine shop closed during the lockdown to prevent alcoholics from shattering their families into pieces and wasting the money. Furthermore, the violation of human rights, the victims of domestic violence are facing mental as well as health issues such as depression, sexual disorder, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and substance abuse, etc.

The main reason for domestic violence is due to no communication from the outside world. Earlier, the victims could easily flee from a violent situation by staying elsewhere but now the option is not available with them.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that alcohol consumption reduces self-control and leaves people less capable of negotiating tensions within relationships whereas, excessive drinking by one partner can also lead to financial difficulties, childcare problems and other family issues which will further lead to aggression and violent behavior after drinking and which can be used as an excuse for violence.

The condition of domestic violence and drinking are the same throughout the world. In South Africa, it was seen domestic abuse crimes are down by 70% as compared to last year[2] as many women are trapped at home and are unable to call for help. The domestic violence calls have been 2,300 in the first five days of the lockdown which is three times more than the rate of before lockdown.[3]

Have previous alcohol bans reduced domestic violence?

The WHO sites two historical experiments that made a great impact on society. In the 1990s, an Australian town has reduced its hour of sale of alcohol which resulted in reduced in the number of victims admitted to the hospital for domestic abuse.[4] In the 1980s, Greenland limited their alcohol production and was credited with 58% fallin police call-outs for domestic incidents.[5] In 2019, in Bihar, India women joined hands and campaigned for bans on liquor which resulted in a lesser number of domestic abuse, and such bans pushed alcohol consumption underground.

It has seen that by regulating the price of alcohol the consumption of it will be reduced and thus the violence will also be reduced.[6] In the USA it has been estimated that a 1% increase in the price of alcohol will decrease the probability of domestic violence towards women by 5%.[7]

End-Notes:
  1. World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/terminology/ who_­lexicon/en/
  2. Roli Srivastava and Kim Harrisberg, Tuesday, 5 May 2020, Will lockdown alcohol bans affect domestic violence?, Thomson Reuters Foundation, https://news.trust.org/item/20200505191710-1niva/
  3. Ibid 3
  4. Douglas M. Restriction of the hours of sale of alcohol in a small community: a beneficial impact. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 1998,22: 714-9.
  5. Room R et al. Alcohol in developing societies: a public health approach. Helsinki and Geneva, Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies and World Health Organization,2003
  6. Chaloupka FJ, Grossman, M, Saffer H. The effects of price on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems. Alcohol Research and Health, 26:22- 34.
  7. Stuart GL et al. Reductions in marital violence following treatment for alcohol dependence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2003,18:1113-1131

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