Mum­bai’s bar dancers trapped by state’s new face-sav­ing law

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Ku­nal Puro­hit ku­nal.puro­hit@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

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