ne night around fifty bar girls were paraded on highway between Dahisar checkpoint and Kashimira junction, the girls were picked from their workplace, and led to the police station at night. Although police officials shrugged off the action as routine, which was intended to deter illegal activities in the orchestra bars, the unusual ‘procession’ has ignited a major controversy. But this act of police has brought lot of a embarrassment for these females. The spectators were watching them; the cops were not even kind in their approach. Though dancing in bar is not illegal. The Supreme Court has already struck down a state government’s imposed ban on dance bars as it violated bar dancers’ right to earn a livelihood. So they drafted some rules, which have put bars in an awkward situation. The draft rules restrict the number of dancers on the floor and also prescribe a minimum distance between the performers and the audience, meaning customers can’t dance on the floor. Further, smoking would not be allowed inside dance bars, nor would flashing of currency notes be permitted.
The state government draft specified that every dance bar must have CCTVs with the feed beamed live to the nearest police station. Since dance bars were always a guilty pleasure, the rules were unlikely to attract any customers with cops watching the proceedings all the time. Striking down all these old rules now SC says alcohol is allowed, no CCTV in Maharashtra dance bars. While the Court set aside the condition to install CCTV cameras in the bars on grounds of privacy, it prohibited showering of currency notes on the dancers, which is likely to be impossible to follow. The bench also quashed the provision mandating that dance bars in the state should be located at least one km away from religious places and educational institutes.
With the ban on bar Mumbai was at peace for some years, suburban areas were clean. Crime ratio gone down and glamour and glitz city was limited to pubs, parties and movies. On the other hand, those who survived on bar dancing got into prostitution or sex slavery. More than a few hundred young women were migrated from Kolkata to Mumbai. After the Maharashtra government shut down Mumbai’s dance bars in the garb of curbing ‘immoral activities’ they all were sent back to their native place. Some went to foreign land. Pimps and flesh traders flourished exploiting these women. Mumbai is already cursed with many illicit activities. All former agents who switched to better jobs returned to their original profession and will be busy gathering bar dancers. After the dance bars reopened with fewer rules to follow, they’ll all be accommodated eventually. Relocation means occupying flats in Mira Road and Navi Mumbai like areas, where low-income middle class families reside. Return of bar dancers may hike the property prices. Estate agents prefer to allot houses to these dancers for more money. The common public may suffer. But looking at larger picture, even these bar professionals too hail from middle class community, who needs to survive.
Any law or ban made on a purely moral basis should be struck down. After all, morality is relative, and should not be enforced. Plus, banning these activities will lead to only further exploitation of the said women, as they would be pushed into illegal work options. What is really needed is the enforcement of law and order, which ensures that the women work in a secure environment. Legislature, Executive and judiciary are the three important structures of the government. I understand judiciaries stand, but why are they not equally prompt over other corruption and crime issues? If the logic is accepted then the government of India should start dance bars all over India and grant loans for this business to attract FDI. If the Supreme Court’s verdict of opening closed dance bars and having easy rules is applauded, but SC should now legalize prostitution. There is nothing wrong in working as a bar girl and making wealth and living lavishly. Bar girls have their way to sex trading, many men were cheated and looted by these girls.
We have seen many criminal cases in the past. The question here, is this the only way we can liberate poor women? Somewhere we are confusing issues. While women need right to work, safety and dignity at work place, dance bars surely don’t fall in that category. Bars are fronts for destructive men. Moreover, many of them are run on investments by the cops themselves supported by the sleaze money that flows through the system. The dancing women may be making gold jewellery but quite a few men who become addicted to these dancing beauties have pauperized themselves and their families. The need of the hour is to evolve a code of conduct for running the dance bars so that anti-social elements do not find the hide out a refuge for illegal activities with the connivance of the bar owners and staff. As long as the dignity of women is not violated there is no harm in pursuing the dancing profession in bars. But the harsh fact is that, no such profession is blessed with dignity. Both the woman who wants to earn quick money and man who wants to live so called happy lusty moments are aware this is not the dignified place. We talk morals and liberty when it comes to other woman and benefit to a man himself, but he will keep a tight eye on his own female family member if she wishes to pursue dancing in Bar as a profession.
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