Who is a dancer, who is a prostitute?
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.