Unlike Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, who chiselled huge women voter base by bringing in the policy of total prohibition, the government led by CM Naveen Patnaik, also a big votary of women empowerment, follows a very liberal liquor policy. The number of liquor shops in Odisha stands doubled in the last 15-years.
In such a backdrop, the National Family Health Survey released recently has dropped a big shocker for Odisha on the occasion of International Women's Day. The warning shot here has been that one in every three married women in the State has to endure physical or sexual violence every day.
And the nagging home truth here is a whopping 59 percent of ever-married women who have faced any form of violence in the State when their hubbies return home in a tipsy state. High on 'liquid courage', they canned their female partners.
'Liquid Courage' Led Violence In Odisha
As per the NFHS-5 report, in Odisha, 32 percent of women experienced physical or sexual violence and 4 percent experienced both physical and sexual violence. It further says that women are more likely to experience spousal violence if their husband gets drunk often (59 percent).
In comparison, only 22 percent of married women have faced any form of violence even when their husbands are not addicted to drinking.
This shows how alcohol consumption has been the driving force behind the instances of rising domestic violence in the State.
Significantly, the same report has mentioned that 38 percent of men in the State consume alcohol with the rural-urban divide standing at 37 percent and 39 percent, respectively. A whopping 11 percent of men in the State take their drinks every day.
Though the count of men taking the 'liquid courage' has remained static in the State during the last decade, the State government's liberal liquor policy, where the number of liquor shops keeps on rising, makes the women vulnerable to physical/sexual violence.
Domestic Violence In Odisha
As per the data tabled in the Odisha Assembly, the cases of domestic violence registered by the State Women Commission have been given below.
- 2017 - 1093 cases
- 2018 - 1,141 cases
- 2019 - 950 cases
- 2020 - 723 cases
- State capital Bhubaneswar topped the list.
A look at the data tabled in State Assembly shows that cases of domestic violence in the State are on the downhill.
A Reality Check
The NFHS-5 report released early this year gives a reality check, It says while more than three-quarters (82 percent) never sought help and never disclosed the domestic violence to anyone, only 11 percent of women in the age group of 18-49 years who have ever experienced physical or sexual violence has sought help.
Moreover, among women who sought help, the main sources of help were their own family (58%), friends (26%) or their husband’s family (19%).
The big revelation is only 6 percent sought help from the police.
The above NFHS data negates the data tabled in State Assembly that gave an impression that domestic violence against women in the State is on the decline.
The Delhi Kick
Recently, eying a 'kick' in its coffer, the Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi Government becomes the 19th state in the country where the drinking age has been 21 years. Though the new excise policy of the state of Delhi called for increasing liquor vends, owing to the severe backlash, the Dy CM had made an announcement that no new liquor shops will be opened in Delhi.
The policy has called for the re-distribution of liquor outlets in the national capital region, whereby the national capital has been divided into alcohol saturated and unsaturated zones. The policy calls for no more liquor vends in saturated zones.
The above policy analysis shows that liquor shops cannot be opened like neighbourhood grocery stores. In the given context, the policy of the Odisha government to increase liquor shops in the State does not hold water.