Why stigmatise anyone for buying alcohol? ask women shopping at a wine store

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Draped under a single-layer of shawl from neck to her head, wearing a white t-shirt and blue pants, Riya* is probably only one of the two women in a beeline of a ‘lesser prominent’ liquor shop – that had opened at Kadri in Mangaluru on Monday.

Despite having a legitimate reason to wear a face-mask – Riya said that she has been getting ‘judgmental’ stares from her male counterparts. She said that she noted that some of them who are ahead of her in the queue, yet repeatedly under some pretext try to turn around and set their glare on her. “Nobody has dared to directly talk to me though,” she adds.

However, only with her eyes visible and face completely covered with a shawl; Riya said that she feels more than secure and welcome, in the otherwise almost male-dominated queue at the liquor shop than ordinary days. She admits that this was not her first time shopping for alcohol. “More than COVID-19, the mask is like an empowerment tool for me. Otherwise, either I had to either accompany my husband or brother (both out of the station at present), or had to request them to get my order,” she said.

Riya said that although she was one of the early birds to reach the shop on Monday morning, she had to hover around the area for about an hour-long until a sufficient crowd had built up the queue. She says she was particularly annoyed when some passersby or even the media, who had arrived at the scene to take pictures and video cameras to shoot those purchasing alcohol. “In our country, anybody can make fun of those drinking alcohol, there is no holds bar. Despite, alcohol consumers being one of the largest contributors of respective state taxes. We are stigmatized, insulted, called names for making the choice of our beverage,” she said.

According to this report by The Indian Express, Karnataka earned the second largest chunk of excise duty of Rs, 19,750 crore in financial year 2018-19, among other states.

She adds that moreover for a woman to admit that she drinks, it is not something that everyone accepts. “People openly humiliate, tag you with name you, shame you, question your upbringing, blame your character. We can’t do anything but silently suffer. The mentality of stigmatizing people for these personal choices must change. It is very prejudicial to dub everyone who drinks is a drunkard. Many people drink socially and within their limit” she adds.

 Meanwhile, just a few meters away, another woman wearing a full-sleeved blue top, dark shades, was also seen standing in the queue. She said that she also had been longing to drink her favorite ‘spirit’ for over a month. “But I stay with my family and due to certain belief systems, none in my family drink and they don’t know I drink either. I have come out under the guise of visiting my workplace, which I won’t. But instead I will go to my other female colleagues’ place – where they are waiting for me to get the bottles,” she said.

On being asked, her preference for this lower-end shop, compared to a mall like liquor shop around the same area near Kadri Petrol pump, Alia* said that she had shortlisted this venue, based on her research. “The other facility has too many cameras, both at entrance and exit. There is no privacy. Here also there is one camera. But I am uncomfortable here,” she said.

To maintain her incognito, the 28-old Techie also said that she has borrowed the full-sleeves dress from her friend and white color mask too, is different from the one she regularly wears. All this to ensure that no one will recognize her, she said. “I like drinking, that is my choice. But I don’t want to hurt my parents, so I can’t leave anything to chance and make sure I am not identified,” she said.

Following the categorization of Dakshina Kannada in ‘Orange Zone’, Deputy Commissioner (DC) OF Dakshina Kannda, Sindhu B Rupesh on Sunday announced an easing of Lockdown restrictions for the district.   However the DC clarified that there will be no ease of restriction at the notified containment zones in the district. DK district has 8 containment zones.

About 152 wine shops (CL-2 license bearer) and 22 Mysore Sales International Limited (MSIL) liquor shops will be now open. The outlets are allowed to sell takeaway bottles between 9 am to 7 pm. At present, Dakshina Kannada has nine active cases of COVID-19 and three deaths have been reported to date.

*Image(s) for representation purpose only

Cover Photo Credits: Prajwal Bhat, The News Minute

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