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Mumbai family struggles as HIV+ bar girl languishes in remand home

The 25-year-old woman, who was picked up by police in a bar raid in May, was the sole breadwinner of her family, as an accident forced her HIV+ husband to stop working a year ago

A raid conducted by the Social Service Branch and Mira Road police at a bar two months ago has robbed an entire family of its livelihood, forcing a four-year-old child out of school.

Orchid Bar in Mira Road (East)
Orchid Bar in Mira Road (East)

For the past two months, a 25-year-old bar dancer, who was picked up by the police during a raid in Orchid Bar in Mira Road (East), has been languishing in a remand home in Ulhasnagar. The woman, an AIDS patient, was the sole breadwinner in her family. She would work in the bar to make ends meet.

Her husband, who also has AIDS and was injured in an accident last year, has been at home since last August, with no livelihood. The couple’s son has also been removed from school, as the family can no longer afford to pay his fees.

A total of seven bar dancers were arrested in the raid in May. Police said that the court has not released the woman and the six other bar dancers who were picked up from the remand home, as the documents that were submitted as address and age proof were found to be invalid.

The ailing husband told mid-day: “I met with an accident in August last year. My left leg is still broken. The doctor asked me to undergo an operation, which would cost me in lakhs at a private hospital and thousands in a general hospital.

I cannot afford to undergo the surgery. Ever since the accident, I have been staying at home, and have not been able to do any work anywhere. My son and I are dependent on my wife, but she has been in a remand home for the past two months.”

Manish and Reshma fell in love and married in 2008. During a check-up in 2010, Reshma learnt that she had AIDS. The doctor advised Reshma’s family to undergo tests as well, and her husband was also diagnosed with AIDS. Their son, however, is not infected. Both started undergoing medical treatment, and the condition is under control at present.

Manish lives in a rented flat with his four-year-old son. He already owes Rs 6,000 to his landlord and is planning to move back to his parents’ home in Mulund. Manish added, “I need a wheelchair, so that I can start working and earn money for my son and my operation.

The wheelchair costs Rs 3,500, which I cannot afford. I have been trying to secure my wife’s release from the remand room for the past two months, but have failed. A family needs a wife and a mother. I request the police and the court to save our family.”

Senior Inspector Dhanaji Shirsagar of Mira Road police station said, “When we came to know that she is an AIDS patient and her family is fully dependent on her, even we tried to secure her release, but the decision lies in the hands of the court. Other women who were rescued from the raid have also been in the remand home for the past two months. This bar girls don’t have valid age proof or residence proof documents.”

The manager of Orchid Bar said, “We are trying to get the girls released from the remand home for the past two months, and are ready to pay the release amount to the court, but all the girls don’t have valid age proof or residence proof documents. We are trying to get hold of the required papers with the help of their families.”

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