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At Bihar’s Naubatpur village, women empowered by change

For women in Bihar, life has changed for the better post-prohibition. HT takes a look at one such village, Basudevapuri, in rural Patna, where some 10 months back, women used to prepare home-brewed liquor, which men folk used to consume and sleep during daytime.

patna Updated: Jan 21, 2017 18:48 IST
Reena Sopam
Reena Sopam
Hindustan Times, Patna
Bihar,Prohibition,Domestic violence
Women watching TV at Naubatpur village near Patna.(Reena Sopam)

Life of women in Basudevapuri village, a few kilometres south of Naubatpur police station in Patna rural, seems to have made a complete turnaround in the last few months.

Just as you enter the village, women from Musahari Tola can be seen relaxing with kids, enjoying the sun. Things were different a few months back.

Of the 100 families in the tola, almost all used to prepare and sell Mahua liquor (home-brewed liquor).

“Had you been here around daytime last year, you might have seen my husband and other men in deep slumber under the influence of Mahua, and women preparing liquor and snacks,” said Radha Devi.

“Now that the government has banned liquor, men are compelled to go out to work and earn money,” she added.

Another woman, Manti Devi, said her children now had regular food and she had also been able to get her son admitted to a school in Basudevapuri.

“I have had enough of this ‘daru’ (liquor) business. Now I want him to be educated and do some work,” she said.

The biggest change after the liquor ban is the relief from physical violence.

“My husband used to beat me every evening. It had become so routine. Once I dared to stop him, but he took up the matter with the village panchayat,” Chameli Devi, an elderly woman of the tola, said.

“I am happy he is now busy in farming. With whatever money he (husband) has earned, we recently got our daughter married,” she said.

Manju, a member of Ekta Parishad, an NGO which has been working in the village for the last several years, said complaints of domestic violence, too, had decreased in local police station.

“Earlier, women used to throng police stations almost every other day to register complaints of domestic violence against husbands,” she said.

“Men in most families used to spend even their wives’ earnings on liquor. It has stopped now. Women now save money,” she said.

While most men in the locality work at construction sites, women get to work on farmlands.

“Almost every women self-help group (SHG) now have common fund in which every member deposits Rs 40 a month. During need, they borrow money from this fund,” Soni Kumari of Sikandarpura said.

“Many (women) also have bank accounts now. Women have also created an ‘Anaaj Kosh’ (granary bank) in the village in which they deposit a handful of foodgrain every day, which helps them in need,” she signed off.

First Published: Jan 21, 2017 18:48 IST