By Ila Ananya
There was a mass marriage ceremony in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, and it seems like the Madhya Pradesh Minister Gopal Bhargava thought it best to gift almost 700 brides a ‘mogri’, the wooden bat traditionally used to wash clothes.
Why? To beat their husbands if they ever came home drunk and harassed them. Really.
That’s not all, reportedly, each bat is even engraved with, ‘Sharabiyon ke sutara hetu bhent, police nahi bolegi’, which is supposed to mean, ‘gift for beating drunkards, police will not intervene.’ NDTV reported that that Bhargava thought the bats were an “important step towards bringing social change.” He also went on to say that the government or police alone aren’t enough to solve the problem of alcoholic husbands coming home and abusing their wives, but we’ve heard enough cases of sexual abuse and domestic violence to know that the police often don’t do anything about this.
Either way, Bhargava’s genius idea reminded us a bit of women on the Delhi metro being allowed to carry small knives to deal with sexual harassment on the trains earlier in January this year. Both these ideas essentially do the same thing: they focus on the fact that women will experience harassment and in the Madhya Pradesh case, domestic violence, but it’s important to pause and note whether this will mean that women victims are expected to encourage women to take responsibility for its prevention. Like we had noted back then, will this mean that the police will now wonder why women didn’t use the mogris they were given to beat their alcoholic husbands?
Could Bhargava really not have come up with ideas that might actually work, and would encourage women to report domestic violence and police to take these cases seriously? What does it mean that a state minister of panchayati raj and rural development is doing this? Evidently this only gets worse: the only other thing he thought of saying to women while he gifted them these bats was to first try and talk their husbands out of their habit, because that’s exactly what the proven solution has been.