Accepted paper:

Alcoholism in rural Bihar: prohibition policy and women's collectives


Meera Tiwari (University of East London)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores role of women's collectives and recent prohibition policy in curbing alcoholism in the state of Bihar in India. While alcohol intake itself has existed in rural India for centuries, current consumption pattern is becoming an increasing cause of social and economic problems.

Paper long abstract:

The state of Bihar in India imposed prohibition on both country-made as well as Indian made foreign liquor in 2016. The legislative assembly then swiftly passed a stringent law that would help the government to enforce its total prohibition policy. The modus operandi of this new legislation is collective punishment. Thereby implying that all adult members of a family are liable to prosecution if liquor is found on their premises or one of them is suspected to have consumed it. Prosecution could be through a fine, jail sentence or confiscation of land. Prior to the prohibition policy, a longitudinal study of 240 Jeevika Self Help Group (SHG) women in rural Bihar in 2009, 2011 and 2013 conducted by the author found alcoholism to be one of the major social problems in the villages studied. Excessive alcohol consumption is widely prevalent amongst the male members in the villages. While alcohol consumption itself has existed in rural India for centuries, the recent consumption pattern and the resulting social problems have been an increasing cause for concern (Dutta et al. 2014). Locally brewed alcohol is often adulterated and can lead to poisoning and death. Intoxicated men routinely abuse their wives and children resulting in high levels of domestic violence. Alcohol addiction also drains the savings of the family with health, education and nutrition of children being the first casualties. This paper explores whether women's SHGs in rural Bihar have engaged with the state policy to seek support in curbing alcoholism in their villages.

panel E09
Gender Inequalities in South Asia