Friday September 5 2014

Why I support Abim elders’ ban on alcohol consumption

By Jacqueline Arinaitwe-Mugisha

I think taking alcohol is a good thing if well managed. Scientists say a glass of wine is beneficial to human organs especially the heart. However, high volumes of alcohol may do harm to a person’s body.

Recently, my friends and I wondered whether the policy makers who decided to scrap graduated tax envisaged a situation where some men (maybe majority in the rural area) would end up drinking themselves useless as a result of not participating in productive activities.

Such men have exempted themselves from productive activity because they are no longer obligated to pay graduated tax.

A good number of men in rural areas are now redundant and drink from morning to evening, only to go back home to beat their wives.

Elders of Abim District chose to stop women from taking alcohol due to a number of reasons including shame and domestic violence.

However, at a national level, Uganda needs strategies to address reckless drinking. People begin to drink in response to social or peer pressure and before they know it, they are addicted.

Implications of over drinking are many, but in villages where the drinking men are the chairpersons, secretaries and treasurers of their families, violence erupts if other family members demand for a share of the family produce to meet important needs such as education.

The men claim women are wasteful, do not know how to budget, and the produce from their harvest is on a man’s piece of land so they have no say.
How can we even end poverty, hunger, promote gender equality under such circumstances?
Some people have proposed bylaws to curb alcoholism, others are proposing reintroduction of the graduated tax so that men engage in productive activities, others have suggested ending sale of alcohol in small sachets.
Where we start does not matter but we have to rethink and do something about alcoholism before it is too late. That’s why I support the step Abim elders have taken.

Jacqueline Arinaitwe-Mugisha,

The writer is a community
development worker