Dance bar bill – A good sign of being open minded?Introduction:
Giving green signal to dance bars, the Maharashtra assembly also passed the Dance Bar Regulation Bill which calls for stringent actions against those who violate the terms of the bill. Dance bars will be reopened in the starry city of Mumbai and nightlife will have this secret space where men could openly stare at women dancers.
Years back when a ban on dance bars was enforced leading to closure of these bars, the reasons that were cited dated back to keeping our culture (and men) safe from ill effects of lust and preventing families from breaking. Now the bill, though comes with strict provisions to ensure that women in these bars are not exploited or forced into anything, also slashes the previous slogans that recited about our culture being tainted by dance bars.
Does this mean we have become more open minded and do not want to stick around holding tight the grips of what was laid down as culture and later considered as orthodox? Either ways, the change comes out big with the fact that perhaps banning dance bars was of no good.Yes:1. Banning was wrong:
Dance bars were closed owing to debates of them being unethical but that couldn’t be said when men indulge in more illicit activities in the absence of these entertainment zones. Private dance parties and even secretive dance bars were being invigorated, where there was no keeping track of illegal activities. Government realized the mistake and decided to rectify it with the bill having better provisions. Ban was never the solution; this is.2. Dates back:
Those who bashed dance bars and bar dancers by saying that these are not part of our age of culture and traditions have totally forgotten the fact that court dancers were popular even in the provincial age of kings and rulers. There might not have been bars but there were brothels where the main activity continued to be dance and entertainment. Kings would summon the best dancers to perform in their court during celebrations. Looks like someone just invoked senses into the law makers.3. What about B-grade movies and porn?
There was an attempt to ban porn which did not go well at all. Movies are being classified as ethical and unethical and that too did not work well with the present generation. It was clear that the present generation does not like being dictated what they could watch and what not. The law makers regained their senses too and decided it wasn’t worth trying to prevent adult from watching girls dance when they could do nothing about the real big deals.4. Preventing women from exploitation:
There is no way to prevent women from exploitation except stringent laws and their proper implementation. The Maharashtra government seems to have learnt it the hard way indeed. Those women who lost employment from dance bars after the ban went starving with families that included children. They were forced to enter prostitution in order to bring back money and survival means to their families. With stricter laws, there are provisions that calls for punishment if anyone in the bar tries to touch dancers or shower money on them. They are taking it as a profession; they need not be objectified for it no matter what.5. Penalizing illegal dance bars:
The owners of illegal dance bars or those that do not comply with the laws mentioned in the bill can be heavily penalized and punished. This will prevent illegal activities that were usually a part of dance bars. There will be no skimpy dressing or vulgar dancing and no one can ask of that from a dancer. There will be CCTV cameras installed in the entrances and on the floors to monitor illegal activities. Owner will be penalized with Rs. 10 lakh or three years imprisonment for exploitation of dancers.No:1. It will affect family lives:
Think of family men returning back from work and getting lusted towards a dance bar only to reach home late to a waiting wife or parents. This will create conflicts in families and if the number of rising divorce cases are any less, the open dance bars will garner more numbers to the list. Maintaining a distance of one kilometers from education or religious institutes, far away from residential areas will not help breaking families.2. Occupational hazards:
Women performing in a place dominated by male in itself is occupational hazard. Laws cannot dictate morality to rogue men who will continue to be the way they are – fearless of laws and police. It will also be difficult to ensure that laws are followed in every nook and corner of the city where these bars could be set up easily, without or with the corrupt assistance of influential people who are usually involved.3. Taxes continued to be levied:
On one hand the state government was fighting against dance bars and on the other hand corporation bodies continued to collect taxes from dance bar owners. Entertainment duty was always being levied on them which revealed that perhaps the state authorities were not completely against the opening of dance bars. Dance bars owners within BMC had to pay Rs 30,000 while the bar owners of other municipal corporation had to Rs. 25,000.4. Demeaning women:
Women will continue to be debased if such occupations are encouraged. These have been cases earlier when some elite bar dancers had gathered so much wealth that her house had to be raided by income tax department. Instead of encouraging education of girl child in poverty stricken areas, they will now be encouraged to be bar dancers which is not going to earn them dignity and respect which every girl has rights to.5. What happened to moral policing?
Not that we are asking for it but this was one case where some amount of moral policing would have done fairly good but instead the government gave a nod to the judgement. Corrupting young minds is not a vague thought after all when it comes to dance bars and the illegal activities that might still linger underground.Conclusion:
It was said that when dance bars were closed with bans, there will around 3,000 of them in Mumbai, employing 75,000 dancers who lost their employment all of a sudden. These were uneducated women who could do nothing else than pave their way towards darker regions that led them towards prostitution. Reopening of the dance bars could be good news for them.
With better and stricter laws, there are chances that illegal activities will not prevail and that women will no longer be exploited. It would be much better a chance for them to earn livelihood instead of selling themselves off in the skin trade.