Gender Justice and Empowerment: A Study of Chhara Bootlegger Women of Ahmedabad

Gender Justice and Empowerment: A Study of Chhara Bootlegger Women of Ahmedabad

Neeta Avtar Khurana (School of Liberal Studies, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, India) and Ritu Sharma (School of Liberal Studies, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2819-8.ch025

Abstract

This study is an impact assessment study of the rehabilitation work done for Chhara women in the rural precincts of Ahmedabad district in the state of Gujarat, India. The women of this community are infamous absconders of law and active bootleggers of locally made liquor. As part of a psychological study with a local NGO, the authors headed an impact assessment study of training program aimed at rehabilitating and providing these women alternate modes of employment, thereby driving them away from a life of crime. The chapter centers on the idea of women entrepreneurship and women empowerment. This study argues that making these poor women self-dependent is a panacea for their sluggish development. This has further led the community astray into making illegal country liquor causing further damage to their reputation. Women are at the centre of this vicious circle facing much repression and ostracisation.
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Background

In 1952, the horrific Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 was repealed by the then Indian Parliament despite which the stigma continues and leads to discrimination. The alienation caused due to the demonization of the Chhara community has made them abandon traditional modes of employment. The women are at the brunt of facing discrimination as they are marginalized within the society and are not even offered employment opportunity of being a domestic help leave aside other opportunities because of the stigma attached to the tribe. This has further led the community especially women astray into making illegal country liquor causing further damage to their reputation. Women are at the centre of this vicious circle and face much repression and ostracisation. The study has used empirical tools to verify this claim. Almost 80% of the respondents were widows. Placed at the confluence of the sociology of gender and psychology, the researchers argue that law enforcement cannot be effective without sensitization to the ground realities of conflict.

The study conducted from which the paper borrows was a scientific survey focused on markers of gender and caste realities of the Chharas. Various dynamics involved in the training program that paved the way for the successful employment of the women are described therein. In an attempt to explain its uniqueness, the chapter also has a section on comparing similar social experiments. Going against this trend, it is argued that making these poor women self-dependent is a panacea for their sluggish development. The study conducted by the Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University (PDPU) team was an attempt to change the dogmatic alienation of these poor women.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Suraksha Setu Project: Suraksha Setu is a state-wide public outreach program of the Gujarat State’s Home department aimed at taking the role of Police beyond solving crimes by bridging the gap with the society and by creating a feeling of trust among residents with their proactive and prompt actions. The project intends to give a human face to the police force and minimize incidents of crime in the society.

Female Criminality: Female crime, by definition, refers to the crimes committed by women. It corresponds with the male crime, and is a crime classification which is made from a gender perspective.

Bootlegger: A person who makes or sells alcoholic liquor illegally and/or a person who produces, reproduces, or distributes something illicitly or without authorization.

Rehabilitation: The process of restoring someone (such as a criminal) to a useful and constructive place in society and/or restoration especially by therapeutic means to an improved condition of physical function and/or the process of restoring a person to a drug- or alcohol-free state.

Stereotyping: A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.

Sakhi Sahay Project: Sakhi Sahay—literally meaning ‘helping a friend’—is an initiative of Ahmedabad City Police aimed at rehabilitating the bootlegger women of the community.

Illicit Liquor: Alcohol produced in an uncontrolled environment such as an open field or at home with low or zero safety standards that is intended for purposes of sale, without any authorization.

De-Notified Tribe: Tribes that were listed originally under the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, as criminal tribes.

Restorative Justice: A system of criminal justice which focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large.

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