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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Ban pushed the girls to poverty, says study

Mugdha Variyar, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, July 18, 2013
First Published: 02:00 IST(18/7/2013) | Last Updated: 02:01 IST(18/7/2013)

The ban on dance bars pushed many women and their families to poverty, disrupted their children's education and drove them of out their houses, says a study by Forum Against Oppression of Women (FAOW), a women's rights group.

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The FAOW conducted the study along with SNDT Women's University with 500 bar girls in 2005 before the ban, and later with about 80 of them in 2006.

"We found that the fall in income of the bar girls, many of whom were sole breadwinners, had led to malnutrition, deaths and disruption of their children's education," said an activist with FAOW, who did not wish to be named. The FAOW was one of the petitioners for the withdrawal of the ban by the state government in 2005.

Of the bar girls interviewed in the first study, 82% were from outside the state, and 42% were illiterate. Most of them had come to the city due to poverty and destitution. The study, however, said that none of the respondents complained that they were trafficked.

One of the main outcomes of the ban was the loss of livelihood for the women. Many were left unemployed, or had to work as waitresses in the bars. There was a significant reduction in incomes with more women appearing in the income category of less than Rs10,000 a month.

The organisation had also filed Right to Information (RTI) applications last year to find out how many women were arrested in various raids after the ban, and found that the police indiscriminately harassed women working as waitresses.

Last year, the FAOW informally interviewed about 60 bar girls who were working as waitresses. "They all complained of being harassed and arrested in police raids for indecent behaviour. They were sometimes picked up as 'victims' and kept in remand homes for indefinite periods, where they were harassed again," said the activist.


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