Women

Maharashtra dance bar girls move Supreme Court challenging the constitutional Validity of ban on dancing

February 27, 2017 06:47 AM
Maharashtra dance bar girls (File pic)

NEW DELHI: An association of women dancers, waitresses, singers and other performers working in bars and hotels in Maharashtra has moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of a 2016 state law prohibiting dances by women in these establishments.

The Maharashtra government had enacted a new law to overcome the SC judgment quashing an earlier ban on dance bars but imposing certain restrictions while permitting these performances to keep out obscenity and immoral practices.



Though members of this association sniggered at being derogatorily referred to as 'bar girls', they have, under the banner 'Bharatiya Bargirls Union', termed Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dances in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (working therein) Act, 2016 as arbitrary and violative of their right to earn a livelihood through legitimate means. The SC will hear their writ petition on Monday.

In its petition filed through advocate Nikhil Nayyar, the association said the law unreasonably interferes with free choice of expression through dramatic performances and the right of women to practise the occupation of self-expression through such dramatic performances. The law stigmatised their work, it added.

The state's concern that dancers promoted obscenity was based on 'popular' belief, which was divorced from the ground situation and facts, the association said. The 2016 Act would completely prohibit dance performances in bars as the definition of 'obscene dance' provided under the law had been deliberately kept vague to allow law enforcing agencies to target women performers and harass them, it said.

The petitioner said dances in bars were often choreographed to imitate performances of mainstream music, especially of Bollywood. "As a matter of fact, such performances are common in weddings and other functions," it said. 

It also questioned the law for prohibiting tipping by customers. "The act of tipping or giving gifts as a token of appreciation has been customary and an integral part of traditional dance culture. This decades-old practice is akin to those performing Mujra, Lavani (traditional Marathi song and dance) or Tamasha (traditional Marathi theatre) where performers earn their living through 'bakshisi' offered by the audience as token of appreciation of the performances. The said practice is widely prevalent in Maharashtra and across the country. But the Act prohibits such practice contrary to traditionally accepted form of custom, thus failing to recognise that every performance deserves aprize," the association said.

The Maharashtra government had enacted a new law to overcome the SC judgment quashing an earlier ban on dance bars but imposing certain restrictions while permitting these performances to keep out obscenity and immoral practices.

 

 

 

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