Woman activist fighting for rights of bar girls upset with state regulations

Bar dancers are unhappy that despite the court paving the way for bars to reopen, the state govt is putting up stringent conditions that will make it hard to procure a bar licence

Though bar dancers are pleased that the government hasn’t come up with yet another law to ban dance bars, they are upset with the steps taken to regulate dance bars that they say still smack of morality issues.

Varsha Kale says despite the court saying no to CCTV cameras, the government wants bars to have cameras installed. File pic
Varsha Kale says despite the court saying no to CCTV cameras, the government wants bars to have cameras installed. File pic

On Monday, the state legislative council passed a bill to regulate dance bars without debating it. The assembly hadn’t taken it up till this report was filed. The bill comprises several conditions that are framed with a purpose of making the task of procuring licences very difficult for the owners.

Varsha Kale, leader of the Dance Bar Girls’ Association, which has fought against the ban in court, said that one of the conditions is that a dance bar will not be allowed to operate within a distance of 1 km of any educational institution or place of worship.

“This is discrimination against women employees. A regular bar is allowed to operate within a distance of 50 m of any educational institution or place of worship, but a bar where women work will have a separate yardstick. I don’t think this regulation will stand in court, which will hear us on April 18,” Kale told mid-day.

She said the union was satisfied with 90% of the regulations that the BJP government has put in place. “We’re glad that this government has proved itself different from the previous one which had hatred for bar girls. Under the new law, we have been given a right to dignity, employment and safety at the workplace. It has a provision for amenities like provident fund deduction and fixed working hours,” she said.

Moral policing is on
However, Kale did not find the BJP government any different from others as far as moral policing was concerned. “We have been fighting against this moral policing and we see no end to our fight. I ask myself how long will this battle go on?” she said.

The Supreme Court will hear the ongoing case in which it had told the state to facilitate reopening of dance bars by mid-March. The court had scrapped some conditions that were opposed by the dance bar owners.
“Despite the court saying no to CCTV cameras, the government wants bars to have cameras installed and save recording of 30 days. This, too, is oppressive and won’t get the court’s approval,” Kale said.

Throw money at a bar girl, go to jail
>> Any person who touches them or throws money at dancers inside the bars can face imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000 

>> A fine of Rs 25 lakh for operating illegal dance bar

>> The dancers will not be skimpily dressed and won’t indulge in vulgar dance

>> CCTV cameras to be installed at the entrance and at dance floors

>> Fine of Rs 10 lakh or imprisonment for 3 years if a dancer is exploited by the owner

>> No dance bar will function inside residential buildings, maintaining a minimum distance of 1 km from schools and places of worship

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