By Ajita Rijal
Bajura, Feb. 16: Many women and children silently suffer from alcohol abuse by men across the district. Since the patriarchal family structure gives greater leeway to males in handling the family affairs, their alcoholic abuse has given rise to domestic violence and psychological trauma in women and children.
The districts of Sudhurpaschim State including Bajura, Achham and Baitadi are found to have been gripped by high level of alcohol abuse. Locals say that it is hard to find a single house in the villages, which does not have an alcoholic male member in the family.
Plights of women and children
The alcohol problem has led to serious domestic violence and the family members suffer directly in the hands of the abusers who are mainly men.
“My husband is a drunkard; he is so irresponsible that he never plays his role as head of the family and I have to bear all the burden,” said Dilu Tamata, 40, of Biraltoli in Mangalsen Municipality-3 of Achham.
“When he is drunk, he becomes violent, and beats me and the children; he spends money on drinking and never looks after the family,” said teary Tamata. “He never thinks how the family runs, or how the children are going to schools, or getting textbooks,” she lamented.
Kabita Pariyar, 35, of the same village, whose husband is a migrant labourer in India, said “My husband drinks a lot, so the little earnings he manages to bring home from India is finished by himself on alcohol, leaving us empty handed.”
“He is not even bothered that the children look emaciated or they do not have enough clothes or need school stationery,” said Pariyar.
Every social problem has multiple negative impacts and alcoholism is said to be leading to child marriages in the villages as young girls, fed up with their drunken father, want to escape such toxic home environment.
Tika Saud (name changed), a tenth grader at a local school of the Budinanda Municipality in Bajura district, eloped with a boy who is three years older than her.
Saud said that she was fed up with her drunkard father. “I wanted to study well and do something good in life. But my father never supported me, he ruined the home environment, often beating my mother and shouting at us. So I decided to elope with a man whom I loved,” she added. “I am now happy and studying peacefully at my in-laws’ home,” she said.
Rekha Bhatta, a teacher of Shree Dasarath Chand Primary School, in Baitadi district headquarters said that some students never do their homework. They complain that their father comes home drunk, which creates an unfavourable and messy environment for study at home, she added.
Even worse, some students come to school next day with the mark of slapping or a bruise on their forehead, a testimony of violence inflicted on them by their drunkard father, said Bhatta.
Another impact of an alcoholic father and the resultant economic hardship is termination of daughter’s education. It means daughters will be forced out of school or not sent to school in the first place, but rather married off early.
This means young girls are deprived of proper education. This results in their bleak future.
Alcohol abuse - a social challenge
“Our village is in the grip of an alcohol abuse, and children and women bear its brunt,” said Shyam Sharki, 56, of Budiganga Municipality of Bajura. Most men are irresponsible and are found gambling and alcoholic abuse, said Sharki.
“Many men are found spending time and money in alcohol,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Tanka Prasad Bhattarai of District Police Office, Bajura. “The number of casualty due to alcohol abuse is increasing in the district,” said DSP Bhattarai. “We have arrested around 65 men in a month who were allegedly involved in various crimes under the influence of alcohol,” DSP Bhattarai added.
According to Ganga Prasad Neupane, Chief District Officer of Bajura, the administration is facing hurdles in maintaining peace and security in the district due to excessive alcohol consumption by the locals.
The main challenge faced by the District Police Office of these districts is controlling the rampant buying and selling of alcohol. The local levels have taken steps to control and banned the sale of alcoholic beverages during the day time.
Local representatives have intensified campaigns for destroying homemade liquor time and again. As alcoholism has degenerated societal values, the local government is supervising all the local agencies, imposing fines for breaching the rules, according to representatives.
Those who are found drinking alcohol during the day time are fined Rs 5000, said Deputy Mayor, Kabita Bista of Badimalika Municipality in Bajura. The municipality has put Rs. 5000 as annual tax to liquor shops. Around 130 licensed liquor shops are operating in the district headquarters Martadi. These shops are only permitted to sell alcohol in the evening between 6 pm to 9 pm.
Thousands of women are being abused and have hand-to-mouth problem as men drink alcohol uncontrollably, said Bista. “Our aim is to check this abuse and unsafe drinking of alcohol,” she added.
Though various measures have been adopted to curb alcohol misuse, they haven’t been successful entirely. Most of the people still need to realize negative impacts of alcohol so that they can engage in other fruitful activities and stay away from alcohol.
In 2016, globally more than three million people died as a result of harmful use of alcohol, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) report. This represented 1 in 20 deaths. More than three quarters of these deaths were among men. Overall, the harmful use of alcohol causes more than 5 per cent of the global disease burden.