Mumbai’s bar dancers trapped by state’s new face-saving law
Namrata is a 40-yearold mother of two and a former Mumbai bar dancer. Now that the Supreme Court has lifted the Maharashtra government’s 2005 ban on that industry, she is considering a comeback.
Neither her age nor the long break really worries her. What does make her jittery, though, is the two-week old Act under which all dance bars must now operate. “The industry won’t survive if these rules go through,” she says, pensively.
The law she’s referring to is called the Maharashtra Prevention of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Bar Rooms and Protection of the Dignity of Women Act, 2016. Its rules are even more strident than its name, and violations by customer or owner could end in prison time and fines.
It’s a face-saving attempt by the BJP-led state government, which is in the tricky situation of having to roll back a moralistic ban passed by its main opposition, the Congress-NCP.
Trapped in the middle are the former bar dancers, who have already lost 11 years in a career with a relatively short shelf life.