At mass wedding ceremony on Saturday, an Indian state minister handed out bats to 700 brides for the purpose of beating their husbands if they get drunk and violent.
The bats—called mogri and otherwise used for washing clothes—were engraved with “Sharabiyon ke sutara hetu bhent, police nahi bolegi,” translated to: “Gift for beating drunkards, police will not intervene.”
Gopal Bhargava, the Madhya Pradesh state minister of Panchayati Raj and rural development, says he gave out the bats to draw attention to his state’s domestic violence and alcoholism problems, especially in rural areas, and the lack of police intervention. He says that he often hears from his female constituents about their husbands’ drinking and being physically abused.
“Women say whenever their husbands get drunk they become violent. Their savings are taken away and splurged on liquor,” he said, according to the Guardian. “There is no intent to provoke women or instigate them to violence but the bat is to prevent violence.”
Bhargava has ordered 10,000 of these bats for women “suffering at the hands of their alcoholic husbands.” But he also women should try to reason with their husbands first before turning to the mogri.
Alcohol has been banned in a handful of Indian states in recent years, due in part to its correlation to violence and politicians’ interest in attracting women voters worried about their safety. That hasn’t stopped illegal alcohol sales, however, and Bhargava said people need to stop looking the other way and educate themselves about alcoholism. “An atmosphere is being created in the entire state against liquor but people need to be educated on the issue,” he told the Indian Express. “It is essential before declaring prohibition.”