In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, a debate over the use of alcohol and merits of prohibition has centered around concern for young women and girls, many of whom work long hours in factories but whose wages are delivered to the male heads of household in their family and, frequently, diverted into purchasing alcohol. Local elections in the state this month feature some candidates who argue for total prohibition and others who want to gradually outlaw alcohol, both of which cite the necessity to protect women and girls.
But according to an Op-Ed in The Guardian by Pauline Oosterhoff, a research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, lawmakers should consider implementing and enforcing laws that are aimed at protecting children rather than restricting alcohol, including measures ensuring that minors are not forced to work long hours in hazardous environments, and that they can pursue education if they’d like to do so.
“Politicians running for elections could be campaigning for workers’ rights and protections in the mills,” Oosterhoff writes in the piece. “They could propose schemes to help working children open their own bank accounts. But girls are too young to vote. Instead, politicians advocate prohibiting alcohol — a measure that is likely to pass and unlikely to work. And the exploitation of young women will go on.”