By Matters India Reporter
Amritsar, March 11, 2019: A village in the northern Indian state of Punjab observed the International Women’s Day differently.
The women of Ramdas in Amritsar district have decided to stamp out liquor consumption from their village and set an example for others in Punjab, one of three top liquor consuming states in India.
This was revealed in a recent survey on substance use in India, conducted by the federal government, as reported by the Indian Express on February 24.
“Alcohol has destroyed our families,” the wife of an alcoholic told the women’s day program held on March 9.
Around 700 women from Ramdas attended the event.
Women left their daily chores and gathered at Asha Deep Social Service Centre to collectively take steps to tackle the issues in their village. The day’s theme was ‘Claim the Rights of Women.’
Asha Ddeep is part of the Bethany Social Service Society, Punjab, managed by the Congregation of the Sisters of the Little Flower of Bethany.
It helps financially and emotionally affected women to launch small but effective campaigns to end liquor menace in villages.
“Women are afraid to keep their daughters in their homes due to fear of rape and kidnapping even murder,” said Sister Anita, principal of Sacred Heart Convent School.
She narrated how a father of a student had beaten up the girl in front of her. She said if the girls do anything wrong, they cannot report the matter to the fathers. Under the influence of alcohol the fathers would even kill their girls.
Asha Deep works empowers women and girl children in 22 villages of Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts, Sister Sabina, director of Asha Deep Social Service Centre, told Matters India.
More than 920 women directly benefit from the activities of the NGO.
The Catholic NGO addresses issues such as drug addiction. Illiteracy, early marriage, bonded labour, female feticide and dowry.
It also helps school dropouts to complete their education and pursue higher education. Recently some girls completed their General Nursing and other short term courses. Each year sees an increase in the number of students seeking admission in schools
Sister Rani Punnasseril, program manager, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India Office for Labour, enlightened the women on their rights.
The member of Holy Cross (Menzingen) congregation addressed the issue of domestic violence rampant in Punjab villages.
“We never heard such a law existed for us,” said a participant referring to laws to tackle domestic violence.
Sister Sabina expressed happiness that women of Ramdas “are proactive and willing to change their situation.”
Father Shine Thomas, parish priest of Christ the King Church, Ramdas, said he had informed church goers about the necessity of education in Punjab.
The parish and the nuns’ social service center work together to help their people.
The priest believes their continuous efforts to bring social changes has become successful. More and more girls from poor families now attend schools, he added.