They are planning to move SC to have the right to work as freelancers
Mumbai: Bar dancers, who are likely to start performing soon in city bars, have made it clear that they would not like to be employees at these joints and would rather prefer to work as freelancers.
This follows the recent law passed by the state government, making it mandatory for bar girls to work as employees at their respective bars. The new law — Maharashtra Prevention of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Bar Rooms and Protection of the Dignity of Women Act 2016 — also imposes severe punishment and fines on those flouting it.
According to Varsha Kale of the Bar Girls’ Union, they are going to file a petition in the Supreme Court, stating that dancers want to work as freelancers. “Some bar owners have agreed to abide by the new law that makes bar girls full-time employees. But they will give the dancers Rs5,000-7,000, which is hardly anything,” she said.
The activist added that many of the dancers were earlier making Rs 25,000-30,000 as tips and hence they would not agree to work as full-timers. In fact, being employees of the bars would only result in exploitation of the dancers since they would not get their earnings, she explained.
Before the state government banned dance bars, there were an estimated 75,000 bar girls in the city. While many of them have started working as waitresses at bars, many have migrated to other countries in search of jobs.
Another bone of contention between the dancers and the bar owners was use of women security personnel at these bars, Kale said. “We are all for the idea of having women security staff since they will give a feeling of safety to bar girls,” she said.
There had been instances of policemen throwing water bottles at bar girls during raids and having women security personnel would help in checking such uncalled for actions, she added.
Meanwhile, despite an order from the Supreme Court, the three bars that have been given permission to open with `immediate effect’ are unlikely to start functioning anytime soon. A bar owner from the suburbs said that they feared they could be targeted if they start operating on their own. “There is a feeling that permission must be given to at least 100-150 dance bars in the city, so they can start operations together,” he reasoned.
According to a senior police officer, no bar owner had so far approached them to get the preconditions verified before starting operations. “Though the Supreme Court has given permission to three dance bars to restart immediately, they will still have to comply with the conditions,” he added.
The next hearing in this matter will be held on November 24.