Mumbai: Malls, restaurants and eateries in gated compounds in non-residential areas in Mumbai will be allowed to remain open all through the night, on a pilot basis, from January 27, 2020, the Maharashtra cabinet said on January 22, 2020. Just before this decision, former legislative assembly member from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Raj Purohit, said, on January 20, 2020, that a “culture of alcohol” would lead to an increase in crimes against women and that the government should rethink its decision. His claim is partly true. Though intimate partner violence is linked to alcohol use, it is caused by patriarchy and male privilege, and the time of the day is unrelated to rate of crime against women, according to crime data and experts.

Further, there will be no change to the existing excise rules which govern the time liquor is served, the Shiv Sena, part of Maharashtra’s governing coalition, tweeted on January 25, 2020. As per the current rules, serving of alcohol is permitted until 1.30 am, an official from the Mumbai police and the excise department told

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“From January 27, malls, multiplexes, shops and eateries in non-residential areas like Bandra-Kurla Complex and Nariman Point will remain open 24×7,” said Aaditya Thackeray, the state tourism minister, and Shiv Sena member, The Indian Express reported on January 22, 2020. The decision could help generate revenue and jobs, Thackeray said, adding that keeping these places open during the night was not mandatory.

The police had not yet received a notification on the change in the closing times, a police official told on Jan 29, 2020.

Claim by BJP’s Purohit: “If this culture of alcohol spreads in this country, there will be violence against women. Today the Nirbhaya rape happened, thousands of such rapes will happen. I respectfully ask that if this [24x7 operations restaurants and pubs] is to happen, research this first. Aditya [Thackeray]...he is a young politician...he should do whatever is in his mind but first he should think about it. Will this culture of alcohol benefit India?” Purohit said in Hindi, on January 20, 2020, two days before the cabinet decision.

By the Nirbhaya case, he is referring to the brutal gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapist in Delhi in 2012. The rape took place after she boarded a bus at 9.30 pm.

Purohit added that night life, alcohol and dancing through the night is not Indian culture and that it would also disturb the sleep of those living in that area. He also said that drunk men first attack their wives to show their masculinity.

“I stand by what I have said,” Raj Purohit, told when we reached out to him on Jan 30, 2020. “Since the opening of night life, it has not been successful as people have not visited the places. This is going to fail. This is India and not London or New York. In our Bharatiya Sanskruti (Indian culture) people do not like to eat outside,” he said.

He said that, as an experiment, three years ago, there was a 24x7 restaurant in Ballard Estate, a locality in South Mumbai, but people visited that restaurant only for a few days and the project went bankrupt. could not independently confirm this event.

Further, the police had said some time back that they cannot provide protection during these extended hours, and so it will be a law and order issue, he added.

Fact: Alcohol, overall, unrelated to rate of crime against women. Domestic violence linked to alcohol.

In India, Nagaland, Gujarat, Bihar, Lakshadweep (all islands except Bangaram) and Mizoram (except three autonomous district councils) have prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol. It is not served in restaurants or shops. Still, all of these states do not have a lower crime rate against women than states which permit alcohol. For instance, in 2018, Gujarat reported 26 crimes per 100,000 women compared to 15.4 in Tamil Nadu, where alcohol is allowed, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Source: National Crime Records Bureau

Still, intimate partner violence is often attributed to the consumption of alcohol by perpetrators, according to a 2006 World Health Organization report. In India, 71% of women whose husbands often get drunk have experienced spousal physical or sexual violence, as against 22% of women whose husbands did not drink alcohol, according to the fourth National Family Health Survey, 2015-16.

About one in four (24%) of 70 injured women assaulted by their husbands alleged alcohol to be the cause of violence in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, according to a 2015 study published in a medical journal. Dowry was correlated to assault (57%), especially in the first seven years of marriage, the study said.

Early closing hours do not reduce rapes

In 2018, the NCRB reported 71.1 crimes per 100,000 women in Mumbai, lower than the national average of 78. Of 19 metropolitan cities, Mumbai ranked 10th in the overall crime rate. Lucknow had the highest with 197.9 crimes for every 100,000 women, followed by Delhi (154.8) and Indore (153.5).

Liquor is served in standalone restaurants and pubs in Lucknow until 12 am, in Delhi until 1 am, and in Indore until 12 am. In Mumbai, liquor is served until 1.30 am, as we said. Metropolitan cities in Uttar Pradesh, including Lucknow, will be serving alcohol till 4 am from April 2020, according to an ANI report on January 28, 2020.

Source: National Crime Records Bureau; Crime rate per 100,000 women. Timings: Mumbai, Lucknow, Indore. Timings for Jaipur and Delhi were confirmed over the phone by police officials.

The actual closing times of restaurants might vary based on the category of the eatery. For instance, in some cities, five-star hotels are allowed to serve liquor until much later than standalone restaurants or bars.

There were 319 rape cases reported in Mumbai in 2018, with a crime rate of rape of 3.7 cases per 100,000 women. Jaipur had the highest rate, with 20.6 rapes per 100,000 women in 2018, followed by Delhi (14.3) and Indore (12.4). Jaipur’s standalone restaurants and pubs are officially allowed to sell liquor until 11 pm, according to a Jaipur police official.

Most cases of sexual harassment occur during the day

Half of the incidents of sexual harassment in Mumbai occured between 12 pm and 6 pm, 32% of cases happened between 6 pm and 12 am, 16% between 6 am and 12 pm and the least (3%) between 12 am and 6 am, found a 2015 public survey on ‘Crime Victimisation and Safety Perception’ conducted by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) among households in Delhi and Mumbai. The survey covered 6,036 households in Mumbai (of which 927 had been impacted by a crime. 307 of these were women) and 4,990 households in Delhi.

Most of the cases of violence that happen outside the home generally happen during the day when the woman is out alone, for jobs, with no family member around, according to a March 2017 report on government interventions—across Maharashtra, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi—to tackle violence against women, by Bhartiya Stree Shakti, funded by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Of 157 respondents in the study, 71% of the victims said that they faced the crime during the day, between 8 am and 7 pm, while 29% faced the crime at night, between 7 pm and 8 am.

“We haven't seen a trend where cases report more at night,” Nayreen Daruwalla, programme director at Mumbai-based SNEHA (Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action) told The organisation runs centres from 9.30 am to 7.00 pm providing assistance and counselling services to women and children who have suffered physical, sexual, emotional or financial violence. They also have a 24-hour crisis helpline for women and children facing violence or distress.

“Mumbai is anyway a late city, people hardly sleep here,” Daruwalla said. “Restaurants and malls are open till late and Mumbaikars enjoy it...It’s not whether restaurants are open or not. It is about people changing their mindsets against women—people respecting women and giving them an equal space in the city,” she said.

“We have always been saying that streets are not going to be safe with more regulations or surveillance,” said Devangana Kalita, an activist with Pinjra Tod (Hindi for break the cage), a collective of students and alumni across colleges countrywide. “It is only when more people are on the roads, the streets are going to be safe.”

Patriarchy, male privilege—not alcohol—lead to crimes against women

“Alcohol is not an excuse for violence and crimes against women and girls,” said Daruwalla.

“Patriarchy and male privileges are the primary causes of violence against women in the family and outside,” Daruwallla said. Violence is the most extreme expression of patriarchy, a system that promotes the subjugation of women to men directly through obedience, supported by force, if necessary, she explained.

Often, violence against women takes place within the home. Of all crimes reported against women at the state level, the most common is cruelty by husbands or relatives. In 2018, 16.1 such crimes were reported per 100,000 women across the country, higher than the rate of rape (5.2), assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (13.8) and kidnapping & abduction of women (11.3).

“The reasons for violence are that the woman has failed to fulfil her expected role and responsibilities in her home and outside and the woman has been in an unsafe environment either in her home or outside,” Daruwalla said.

What is needed are more preventive measures, Daruwalla said. She suggests building women-friendly infrastructure and transportation services, and awareness about crimes against women as a violation of human rights. She also emphasised on timely police, legal aid, shelter, counselling and support for survivors.

Family worries more about female safety at night

Of the four biggest metros, those in Mumbai worried the least about women's safety. In a survey, 13% respondents in Mumbai said they would not worry if a female member of the household was out at any time of the day, compared to 8% in Bengaluru and Chennai, and 1% in Delhi, IndiaSpend reported in September 2017, based on an IDFC Institute survey.

About 30% of people in Mumbai said they would start worrying by 9 pm if a female member was out alone, compared to 87% in Delhi, 54% in Bengaluru and 48% in Chennai. The anxiety increased as the night crept in, 76% of people in Mumbai start worrying by 11 pm, as do 97% in Delhi, 90% in Chennai and 89% in Bengaluru.

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