Raichur Women were on a 71-Day Protest Demanding Liquor Ban Ahead of Elections : Vimukti pothnal

Women from Raichur are urging the government, “Please stop the sale of liquor!” In a 71-day protest, which began on February 20, the women are demanding to ban the cause of problems in their personal lives.

Mariyamm a member of Vimukti staff stated “We have chosen 71 days because it has been 71 years since India has been declared independent but us women still lead enslaved lives.” She added, “The wretched liquor has ruined our lives – ask the women here. Many of them are regularly beaten up by their drunken husbands and sons. Rampant alcoholism has eaten up the earnings of most families. What is worse is an even boy as young as 13 and 14 have begun drinking!”

The protest is taking place in a shamiana in the Mahatma Gandhi stadium complex in Raichur city, Karnataka. The women participating in the protest are boiling with anger and do not plan to move until the problem of alcoholism is solved. They are infuriated by the fact that the state suffering water scarcity is abundant in the supply of alcohol. “Beeru beda, neeru beku; We don’t want alcohol, we want water,“ demanded women.

The organizers of the demonstration are the Madhya Nisheda Andolana, which was formed in the year 2016 to demand prohibition in Karnataka. It is supported by 30-odd organizations across the state. In the protest, women from nearly 600 villages across Raichur district have participated.
“We don’t want country liquor, we want education. If the anger of women boils over, brandy shops will be broken into pieces,“ said the women.

Mariamma, a woman from Aravali village on the outskirts of Raichur, described the ill-effects of alcoholism. She shared, “I have borne the brunt of alcoholism in my house after my husband took to drinking. We would have nothing to eat. I have had to go to the field to find work to keep my children alive. Even now, as we speak, he is lying there at home drunk out of his mind.”

Mariyamma from Malkapura said, “Constitutionally [according to the 73rd amendment] if a rule is passed by the gram panchayat, it has to be respected as a law.“ She further added, “We have even passed the rule [banning alcohol] in close to 10 gram panchayats so far, but have been unable to get people to respect it. We have learnt that the sales targets of liquor shops have been increased by the government each year. These shops, in the pressure to sell more, are ruining our lives.”

SUPPORT ALL ROUND
At the dharna site, while the core team sat through the day for the entire duration, other women came visiting. Every day, around 150 women spent their day here while 10,650 in all have shown their solidarity with the protest. So far, women from 600 villages in Raichur sat and from 13 districts have participated in one way or the other.

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