TAMIL NADU

Their lives are made hell by husbands who come home drunk

A study shows that women are victims of domestic violence; they are beaten and abused Besides causing economic ruin to the household, some men were involved in corrupt practices; those who were unable to earn more harassed their wives for money.

M. Dinesh Varma

CHENNAI: : A study conducted by a city-based non-government organisation among women showed they were victims of domestic violence: beaten and abused when the husband came home drunk.

The study on the "Impact of drinking habit amongst men in the lower income group on the life of women" — conducted by Nandini Voice for the Deprived — involved women in the lower income group who worked as domestic servants, sweepers and other unskilled workers.

A team, led by N.S. Venkataraman, trustee of the NGO, contacted the participants between March and June.

Drinking pattern

While 40 per cent of the 105 women said that "life had become hell" because of their alcoholic husbands, 90 per cent confided that they still relied on the presence of a "drunk husband" for social and security reasons. Only five per cent were willing to discard their husbands.

Indicating the drinking pattern among the men, 70 per cent of them said their husbands consumed alcohol on weekends, while 30 per cent said the drinking occurred on other days as well.

Around 30 per cent of women were forced to earn and take care of the household without their husbands support.

Deep-rooted

The study found that the drinking habit was deep-rooted in the lower income group and that men spent between 15 and 20 per cent of the Rs. 2,000-Rs. 3,000 monthly income on alcohol.

Besides causing economic ruin to the household, some men were involved in corrupt practices; those who were unable to earn more harassed their wives for money.

A way of life

Men seem to take to drinking as a way of life.

They do not consider it unethical or immoral. Since the Government is running the liquor shops, the drinking habit has attained a level of respectability. So entrenched is the habit that not serving alcohol at a marriage party or a funeral is considered a sign of economic inability, the findings pointed out.

The study said that women had almost come to accept the husband's habit as normal and did not object if the level of drinking was within limits.

The children in the family, particularly the boys, exposed to sights of their father's inebriation, also took to drinking at a young age.

It was found that most women relied on the Government's noon meal scheme to ensure that their children went to school.

For uniforms and books, they sought the help of social service organisations, while domestic servants were able to get the money from their employers.

Social activists fighting a lone battle against alcoholism are unlikely to make any headway when the Government looked on liquor sales for revenue, the study said.

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