Monday, April 25, 2005

Who is a dancer, who is a prostitute?

Ban is this; ban that. That's adult version of what parents tell children: don't do this; don't do that. The latter is understandable. But I haven't still understood the logic behind our governments telling adults what to do and what not to do. That too on things that are very adult.

This three-letter word, ban, finds great affinity to another three-letter word: sex, which is also the most favourite topic of hypocrites for moralistic pronouncements. I am the least interested in making it a free-for-all open house; for, keeping it under the covers ensures the sine qua non: the element of curiosity.

Girls can't dance in Mumbai's bars. That's since April 13. The government says the bars are brothels and girls are prostitutes. Their lives should be saved by giving them alternative jobs. However right the government's views and their objectives may be, no one thinks the ban will achieve anything. Bans don't achieve anything anyway.

Banning the most pervasive thing is the easiest way to corruption. Simply because in reality what is pervasive can't be banned. It will continue to exist, in a corrupted version. Winners: criminals. Losers: everyone else.

Problem lies not with dance bars or prostitution. Problem lies with the ban itself. Legalise dance bars. Legalise prostitution. Let it be officially known what is a dance bar and what is a brothel. So, one won't double up as the other. That was the government's complaint, wasn't it? Similarly, let it be known who is a bar dancer and who is a prostitute.

Evenwhile we all refer to it as the oldest profession and acknowledges its reality in every type of society, in India, it is illegal. Obviously the government will not legalise prostitution. Because it will take away a huge amount of wealth from the underground economy. A huge opportunity for corruption will be closed. The vested interests will not let that happen. Just as only a really bold government can lift prohibition from Gujarat.

Legalising the sex trade will help the practioners and the customers too. Register them, and end the expolitation of girls by their managers. At least there will be some method in the madness.

Put in place a mechanism for regular medical checkup, and certificates. Especially, when a report recently said India has the world's largest AIDS cases, a report which India denied. We are otherwise the second after South Africa.

Tax the brothels and workers. Let them be no different from other traders. Let that money not go underground into a parallel economy.


  1. Suppression only leads to repression. The more we try to close ourselves to satisfy our own narcisstic gratifications, the more we pull ourselves into a hypocritic coup. I should say times are changing gradually and there is atleast an acknowledgement for an appreciation towards tolerance on certain things, but the outward actions are far from ratifying these toughts.

    Just that, people are more afraid of the "society" thing, which forces them under cover for their own naive reasons. We are still a long way...

  2. Completely agree with you on this one.Prostitution should be legalised. Besides making it a regular trade , it will also keep predatory males off our womenfolk. However legalising prostituiton, dance bars etc.would rob the cops of their livelihood.Politicians who get a cut of the cop's collections too will lose a revenue source.

  3. Third agreement in a row!. Not the greatest stimuli for conversation but still had to agree to ur view point totally!

    I often look at the suppression repression issue from a mallu angle as well!. Especially when i hear about the multitude of sex scandals/teenage rape cases that keep emerging on a regular basis. According to my theory (which ofcourse is NOT tested and validated!), this is atleast partly due to the general conservatism of the mallu society. If you look at comparable places elsewhere in india (after adjusting for educational levels and "awareness" levels!), they are definitely more open than kerala. I once read that the maximum visits to porn sites came from pakistan, which is commonly accepted to be one of the more repressive societies (gender equality wise) around the world. Please dont take this as paki bashing, but maybe the puritans in kerala should note where the current attitude can lead us. And of course i am not even going to talk about the mallu conservatism and the shakeela effect. I shall leave that for a PhD thesis by some enterprising social scientist :)

    On a personal note, happy to bump into ur site. i am from sskzm myself and though never been taught by ur dad (missed his retirement by an year) have grown up hearing about his legends!


  4. Hi Pradeep,

    Yeah i am anish. after silverine posted my link to your blog i got several visitors to my blog through ur blog. i was just analysing my visitors path and found that out. hence visited ur blog.

    i am from 1997 batch and i guess NBN sir retired in 1989 (just before i joined). I had actually met him (i dont know whether you were there too)during a get together 3-4 years back in blr.

    regarding the tax break, i was just curious that in all these while i have never seen an article protesting it. I mean the economic rationale is quite suspect but still no one even bothers to question it. everybody seems to be mollycoddling the issue. Thats why i thought i will express my contray opinion

    anish mathew