Monday, April 18, 2005

Gub-Bar Girls

In the last few weeks, every un-important issues like water problems, crime, poverty etc has been pushed back for the discussion of something very important to the 1.3 billion people of India - the banning of 'dance bars' in Mumbai and Maharashtra state. While millions of children are going to bed hungry everyday and thousands of girl-children are killed or XX combo foetuses are aborted everyday, the 'livelihood' of a bunch of women working as almost-strip dancers in certain places and serving alcoholic drinks are being threatened. If they are not allowed to continue what they are doing, they won't be able to send around Rs. 20 000 every month back home - that is about 1/2 - 3/4ths of their tax free earnings per month. They say that they are not 'prostitutes' but they sure do act like one. Most of the top people here have visited these places atleast once in the last one year and they were 'utterly repulsed' by them.

Even the bar-girls themselves tell stories of how they drink only the costliest fruit punch at Haji Ali juice centre and take some home and how 'morons' shower them with money (their own words). I don't think they get this money for just dancing. Now, human rights activists have struggled to get them free legal advice (at the expense of the honest taxpayer), and are protesting the decision of the income-tax department to recover back taxes for the as yet untaxed Rs. 25000 per month they earned, not to mention the hundreds of thousands they netted their 'bars'. In comparision, I earn much less than what they earn per month and I pay a hefty 30% tax (deducted at source) on my hard earned money. My father earns less that I do and still pays 30% tax on it. Also, I have to pay myself for whatever I eat or drink - whether at Haji Ali juice centre or the corner lemonade stand.

As I struggle to find a place to live in this city, where I can get drinking water that is not polluted, and can walk where I won't get run over by a rich movie star or a politician's son in a fast car, or can go to a park where I can breathe some cleaner air for atleast sometime, and don't have to worry about getting mugged or murdered, or being harassed by eunuchs or prostitutes, or don't have to worry about falling to my death from a crowded local train, the 'Honourable' Members of Parliament from Mumbai fight for the rights of these poor little working girls.

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