Hundreds of brides at an Indian mass wedding have been given wooden bats and urged to use them as weapons if their husbands turn abusive.
Messages such as “for use against drunkards” are written on the paddles, which measure about 40cm (15in) and are more traditionally used for laundry.
Gopal Bhargava a state minister in Madhya Pradesh, said he wanted to highlight the issue of domestic abuse.
He told the women to try to reason with their husbands before using them.
But if their spouses refuse to listen, they should let the paddles – known as mogri and usually used to beat dirt out of clothes – “do the talking”, he said.
Savings ‘spent on liquor’
Mr Bhargava posted pictures of the brides with the bats on his Facebook page.
He told AFP news agency that he had become concerned about the numbers of rural women who faced abuse from alcoholic husbands.
“Women say whenever their husbands get drunk they become violent. Their savings are taken away and splurged on liquor,” he said.
“There is no intent to provoke women or instigate them to violence but the bat is to prevent violence.”
You might also find these stories interesting:
- India textbook lists ‘ugliness’ as cause for increased dowry demand
- Why are India’s housewives killing themselves?
- Violence at home is India’s ‘failing’
Mr Bhargava, of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, says he has ordered 10,000 bats in total.
Nearly 700 brides received them at a mass marriage ceremony in his hometown of Garhakota at the weekend.
Mass weddings are offered in India to help low income couples tie the knot without having to pay for their own event.
Local media suggested it was a move to garner support ahead of state elections next year.
Indian brides given bats to keep abusive husbands in check}