The order of the Supreme Court carried hopes for the women, who lost their livelihood and had to resort to jobs like domestic maids, and daily wage labourers. However, the new stringent dance bar policy that has been added by Maharashtra High Court, seems to shatter their newly awakened aspiration.
Annexing the policy with stringent laws, it seems that the Maharashtra government would resort to any action that might delay the re-opening of dance bars. This new policy further complicates the matter for the dancers, who seemed to have been delayed the chance of an employment that is desired by them.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had earlier formed a 25-member committee with legislators from all parties to deliberate on the issue and make suggestions. The panel was appointed after the Supreme Court lifted the 2005 ban on dance bars a few months ago.
The draft law makes it mandatory to install CCTV cameras at the entrance of dance bars and on the dance floor. It suggests a fine of Rs 10 lakh or imprisonment for 3 years for the owner if a dancer is found to be exploited.
It also mentions that such entertainment outlets will not be allowed to stay open after 11.30 pm (earlier the deadline was 2 am).
The state government has imposed more conditions that includes setting up an independent mechanism, consisting of women groups and voluntary groups, banning of alcohol in bar rooms and not allowing the establishments to be opened in residential and semi-residential areas.
Also, ‘obscene’ dance moves which might provoke any mishap for the dancers are to be banned too.
All these new annexations for the re-opening of dance bars, has further complicated the matter. Hoteliers are now too reluctant to employ dancers or re-initiate such bars, as they fear facing the wrath of these new laws. The heavy fines might hinder the entire process.
The road to gain employment again, has been fixed with further more bumps. The protection of women indulged in this field is required, and certain laws are laudable.
However, considering Mumbai, it is going to be a tedious task of not opening the establishments in residential or semi-residential areas. Being a clustered town, its almost impossible to find a place that won’t have a residential claim to it. This can be a major setback for the re-initiation of dance bars.
Also, the time restriction imposed is a huge obstacle, as the hoteliers won’t be enjoying much customer base till 11:30. The earlier deadline was 2am, which did not deter the customers, however, it’s a gamble move for hoteliers to petition for the license, now.
Such laws that are being proposed for protection of women, might not give them employment at all.
It seems like a long journey for women to fight for their choice of employment.
The question isn’t who all are stopping them, the question is why should they stop them? Are we that morally conceited to allow dance bars to re-open?