They may not make the numbers but drug addiction among women in Punjab is a stark reality. As part of its fight against drugs, the Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD-BJP government would soon open a drug de-addiction and rehab centre exclusively for women, based on feedback from civil society activist and former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Kiran Bedi.
In a meeting with CM Badal at Kapurthala House in New Delhi on Wednesday, Amritsar native Bedi said that during her visits to rehab centres in Punjab, patients and counsellors had told her that women too were doing drugs. “Women are shy to visit general de-addiction centres due to fear of stigma. They and their parents do not know where to go. An exclusive centre for them will make their treatment possible. Also, hailing from problematic homes where family members are into drugs and alcohol or are jobless, the education system has to ensure children are imparted life-management skills to make them say no to drugs.
Along with corrective action launched by the government, the anti-drugs drive has to be preventive,” Bedi told HT.
Going further on her meeting with the CM, she expressed concern over the changing social ethos and blamed Punjabi cinema and music for glorifying doping and alcoholism. “High on misogyny, the lyrics are not only derogatory towards women but also project doping and drinking as ways of having fun. That is misleading Punjab’s youth.”
Bedi has become involved in the state’s anti-drugs drive after she publicly sought a voluntary role. She put up a series of posts on social networking website Twitter and wrote an open letter to Badal, following which she was called for the meeting with the CM.
Having successfully treated nearly 12,000 drug addicts under her NGO, Navjyoti India Foundation, Bedi said her experience at Tihar Jail proved jails could not only be made free of drugs but also cigarettes. “Smoking is banned in public places, so why can’t jails too be made smoke-free? Also, rehab should incorporate alternative medicines such as homoeopathy, yoga and meditation. Addicts should be imparted vocational training. In fact, rehabs can become skill-development centres,” she said.
So far, the Punjab government’s fight against drugs — taken up vociferously after it became an issue during the Lok Sabha polls — has been using state mcchinery such as the police and the health department.
Bedi has advocated that the drive be executed through public-private partnership. She said the government agreed to her proposal to include NGOs and civil society groups in the recently-constituted Punjab Board for Drug De-Addiction and Rehabilitation chaired by the CM; and that societies registered in all districts too have representatives on it. Their role, according to her, would be to contribute and evaluate work of government departments.
The strategy would be finalised at a meeting of various government departments with Bedi in Jalandhar on July 27.
Bedi’s multi-pronged strategy
*Rope in NGOs, civil society groups
*Cut drug supply; make prisons smoke-free
*Sensitise police, admn towards reforming addicts
*Media campaign to tackle myths about rehab centres
*Involve families of victims in counselling
*Use homoeopathy, Ayurveda, yoga in treatment
*Impart vocational skills at rehab centres
*Impart life-management skills to children in school