700 new brides in the Indian state of Madya Pradesh have been empowered to defend themselves against domestic violence by state minister Gopal Bhargava. At a mass wedding organised by the government, he gave the brides long wooden paddles to use as weapons in case their husbands turn abusive after taking alcohol.
The paddles are the first of 10000 which he plans to dole out to women. On each of the paddles is a message which reads: ‘For beating drunkards’ and ‘Police won’t intervene’.
Bhargava told the brides to reason with their husbands first, adding that they should ‘let the wooden paddles do the talking’ if their spouses refuse to listen.
Bhargava said he wanted to draw attention to the plight of rural women who face domestic abuse from their alcoholic husbands.
‘Women say whenever their husbands get drunk they become violent. Their savings are taken away and splurged on liquor.
‘There is no intent to provoke women or instigate them to violence but the bat is to prevent violence.’