An Indian state minister has given hundreds of wooden bats to newly-wed brides, urging them to use the paddle as a weapon if their husbands turn alcoholic or abusive.
Gopal Bhargava gave the bats – which are used to get dirt out of clothes in traditional laundries – to nearly 700 brides at a mass wedding organized by the government of central Madhya Pradesh state on Saturday.
The nearly foot-long paddles are emblazoned with messages that read: ‘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 told AFP he wanted to draw attention to the plight of rural women who face domestic abuse from their alcoholic husbands.
Many Indian states have launched a crackdown on liquor in recent years, either banning or restricting its sale in a bid to curb alcohol-fuelled violence.