Dance bar ban and a com­mu­nity’s strug­gle to es­cape the sex trade

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

The Lalbaugcha Raja idol was un­veiled on Thurs­day, four days be­fore Ganesh Chaturthi.

As the bat­tle over re­open­ing dance bars in Ma­ha­rash­tra con­tin­ues in the Supreme Court, far away from Mum­bai’s bars is a com­mu­nity feel­ing the great­est im­pact of the eight-year ban.

The Nats, a Sched­uled Caste com­mu­nity from Ra­jasthan, have led a marginalised ex­is­tence for decades. They were per­form­ers be­fore pros­ti­tu­tion be­came the norm, with girls join­ing the trade as soon as they hit pu­berty. The women were stuck in a cy­cle — un­til dance bars be­came pop­u­lar. Pinky Mad­hi­wal, one of the first Nat women to leave the sex trade to join a dance bar. Many came to Mum­bai and be­gan earn­ing well. But the ban has slowly started push­ing women back into the sex trade.

ANSHUMAN POYREKAR/HT

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