"Bar girls were targetted because of their gender and caste..."
Sonia Faleiro's book, Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay's Dance Bars, received worldwide acclaim for its gutsy, honest portrayal of the life of bar girls in the city. Now, with the Supreme Court ruling in favour of re-opening dance bars, she shares her views on the issue
I’m delighted with the court’s decision although I wish it had come earlier. Thousands of women lost their jobs due to the ban. They were targetted because of their gender and caste and powerlessness and pushed further into the margins. The ban may make no difference to the lives of the women who lost their jobs in 2005, but I hope it serves as a lesson to the state of Maharashtra and moderates their attitude towards the next round of bar dancers.
I see nothing wrong with bar dancing, and I fail to understand the outrage that accompanies people’s objection to women who dance, fully clothed and within the boundaries of the law, for their living. If one must be outraged then let it be towards the people who have forced such women to remain illiterate or barely literate, who haven’t given them the opportunity to earn a skill set, who’ve turned a blind eye to the abuse they suffer at the hands of the patriarchy. These women are often victims of circumstances beyond their control and it’s the circumstances that deserve our outrage not the women.
I had no preconceived notions when I began researching Beautiful Thing. And I think it shows in my book. And I don’t pass moral judgments on people. I admire women like Leela who make the best of what they have and work hard to make a better life for themselves. Women like her deserve our support, not our condemnation.
Sonia Faleiro is the author of Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars, Penguin Books.
(As told to The GUIDE)