Alcohol in South Africa

South Africa: Can Banning Alcohol Cure Gender-Based Violence? (Opinion)

Alcohol ban South Africa

Alcohol is big news in South Africa lately. The South African Police Service insists the increase in violence and abuse is directly linked to the lifting of the alcohol ban. An AA member weighed in their thoughts on it.

Alcoholism is a disease

The idea that alcoholism is a disease — is not unique. While discussion of the exact nature of this disease and its possible cure may well go on forever, no reasonably intelligent person quarrels with this conclusion.

Simply put an alcoholic – an estimated 10 % of the population – reacts in a different way to alcohol than the remaining 90%. Physically, the first drink seems to trigger a need for the second, the third, and so on. Unless you react this way, it is almost impossible to imagine the craving for alcohol this generates.

Alcoholics react differently to social drinkers

Most people will have a couple of drinks to relax. And may occasionally overdo it. The alcoholic has a couple of drinks just to get going and occasionally won’t overdo it. As neither the alcoholic nor the non-alcoholic can feel the effect of alcohol as the other does, they cannot understand each other’s reaction to it. This results in the often overheard statement, “I can stop drinking, why can’t you?”

To those who have the alcoholic reaction, alcohol is not a problem, but rather the solution to their many problems and unless the sufferer can find an alternative solution to his or her problems, they are unlikely to quit drinking.

An alcoholic is driven by the craving that kicks in after one drink. A little girl summarised it as – one chocolate is never enough. Many cannot stop until they pass out. In other words, not drinking, in and of itself, is not the solution to alcohol.

Is there a solution?

If it is simply a case of avoiding the first drink, then alcoholism could be cured by banning alcohol. Right? Wrong. Most alcoholics suffer from a form of depression and/or inexplicable feelings of low self-esteem and failing to ‘fit in’ to society. Those feelings are dispelled by that first drink.

Alcoholics Anonymous addresses those feelings of restless irritability, thereby assisting people to refuse the triggering first drink. However, Alcoholics Anonymous does not claim to be the only answer. It seems any spiritually based shift can assist in relieving the alcoholic from the need to have their first drink.

Banning alcohol failed in the USA

Prohibition in the United States proved a dismal failure. It extended the grip of corruption and made gangsters as rich as Croesus. It is not the answer. Alcohol has been with mankind forever in one form or another. Everyone knows the biblical story where water was turned into wine. Alcohol is not evil or demonic.

For every alcoholic, there are tenfold people who can enjoy and savour a glass of wine without reacting to the effect of it. Banning it, as already proven during the lockdown in South Africa, only pushes its distribution underground and worse, homemade stills that can kill.

Zero tolerance and Zero alcohol for drivers

The news laws for South Africans bans all alcohol when driving. Zero percent is on the cards. Even medicines that contain alcohol will be unacceptable when driving. Given the number of alcohol-related road deaths in South Africa, this is a good thing.

Make a plan people. Your insurance companies will not be obligated to cover your accidents in the event you have more than zero percent blood alcohol.

Alcohol and Gender-based violence

Yes. Alcohol can lead to gender-based violence. However, a dry drunk, that is one who is used to having his alcohol boost his self-confidence and ease his esteem issues, is equally dangerous when deprived of his ‘fix’. Anyone living with an active alcoholic will experience similar levels of abuse, verbal and physical when their partner is unable to find relief in their alcoholic tipple.

Gender-based violence can certainly be influenced by alcohol, but this particular ‘pandemic’ requires more than banning alcohol. South African women need adequate shelters for women and children. More government funding for charities that work so hard to help these women. Special courts dealing with cases and restraining orders. Stricter policing of the restraining orders. South Africa needs a fully trained, compassionate, and available police unit specifically for this purpose.

Inadequate protection

Too often women report to NGO’s and shelters that the police refuse help, especially if they know the man involved. One woman told Get Up Women Public – an NGO now closed owing to lack of funds – that she threatened to kill herself because she was so terrified of her partner. A policeman, called to the scene by neighbours, cocked his weapon, handed it to her, and said, “Go ahead.” It is this kind of attitude that needs to be stamped out of policing.

An old policeman once said, “If he hits you once. He WILL do it again. Leave immediately.” Too many South African women cannot. Finances and terror that he will hunt them down and kill them is crippling. A perusal of any newspaper will confirm this. Only adequate policing can protect our women from their men, coupled with education, education, education – what a girl needs to do in a dangerous situation and who to contact for real-time and effective assistance from the state. Now, all we need is to motivate the state to provide it!

The Alcoholics Anonymous helpline is: tel:0861435722

Do you think alcohol should be banned? Have your say.

Remember to check back with SAns Newsfeed for more news and opinion about current events in South Africa.


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