Bar Dancing for Dignity! Will it be Cabarets or Striptease, Next???

Social activists here on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court’s verdict which paved the way for the reopening of dance bars in Maharashtra.

Stating that there can be “regulations” but not “total prohibition”, the Supreme Court has set aside some provisions of a 2016 law imposing restrictions on their licensing and functioning.

The Bharatiya Bar Girls’ union president Varsha Kale, who has been fighting for the cause of bar dancers, termed the apex court ruling as a “great victory”. “We have won this case several times (in various courts), but this victory is bigger,” she said.

Representational image. PTI

“I hope the state authorities will start issuing licences to dance bars so that thousands of bar dancers who had to switch over to other professions, and those working as waiters and singers in hotels, could come back and restart their life,” she said.

Kale said more than 75,000 women were employed in dance bars when the state government decided to shut them down in 2005 for allegedly promoting obscenity. While over 40,000 women left the profession and took up other jobs for a livelihood, around 35,000 were still working as waiters and singers in various hotels, she claimed.

Bureaucrat-turned-activist Abha Singh hailed the apex court’s order as “progressive”, and said the state government can regulate dance bars but cannot prohibit them. Singh said she is happy that the Supreme Court quashed the state government’s provision to install CCTV cameras in dance bars as it violated the right to privacy and discouraged people from coming to dance bars.

“The SC, from day one, treated dance as an occupation, so, the state government’s unilateral decision violated the fundamental right to life of these women,” she said.

Singh said the state government was responsible for some these women “facing penury” without being provided an alternate means of employment.

“If the state is so concerned about the dignity of women, then why is prostitution going on openly in Mumbai? This (SC ruling) is a progressive order. The Maharashtra government should accept it gracefully,” she said.

Manjit Singh Sethi, who spearheaded the fight to reopen dance bars and had moved the Bombay High Court earlier, also welcomed the decision. “This will help thousands of bar dancers to live with dignity,” he said.

Several bar dancers were forced to join flesh trade after the state government snatched their means of livelihood, said Sethi, former president of the Dance Bar Owners’ Association. “Some bars on the outskirts of Mumbai were involved in flesh trade, but under pressure from a few people, the bars in Mumbai were also banned. Now, the court has validated our view
point,” he said.

Local BJP leader Prem Shukla said the state government will consult legal experts on the SC’s order. “The then (Congress-NCP) government took the decision to ban dance bars to safeguard the social fabric. Now that the SC has issued fresh guidelines, the state government will take an appropriate decision after consulting legal experts,” he said.

The SC has quashed some provisions of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Act, 2016, like the mandatory installations of CCTV cameras in the dance bars, saying they violated privacy.

It set aside some provisions of a 2016 law imposing restrictions on the licensing and functioning of dance bars. The apex court permitted the dance bars to be located a kilometre away from religious places and educational institutions. It allowed tips to performers but disallowed showering of currency on them.

Consensual sex of live-in partners not rape if man fails to marry: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has held that rape charge cannot be invoked in case of consensual sex between live-in partners after relationship ends and the man fails to marry her due to circumstances beyond his control.

A bench of justices AK Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer said that when live-in partners are living together out of love and having consensual sex under the promise of marriage them the woman cannot be allowed to initiate criminal proceedings for rape in case of breakdown of relationship without tying the knot. It said that such cases could be termed as a case of breach of promise to marry rather than a case of false promise to marry.

SC quote

“There is a clear distinction between rape and consensual sex. The court, in such cases, must very carefully examine whether the accused had actually wanted to marry the victim or had mala fide motives and had made a false promise to this effect only to satisfy his lust, as the latter falls within the ambit of cheating or deception. There is also a distinction between mere breach of a promise and not fulfilling a false promise. If the accused has not made the promise with the sole intention to seduce the prosecutrix to indulge in sexual acts, such an act would not amount to rape,” the court said.

“There may be a case where the prosecutrix agrees to have sexual intercourse on account of her love and passion for the accused and not solely on account of the misconception created by accused, or where an accused, on account of circumstances which he could not have foreseen or which were beyond his control, was unable to marry her despite having every intention to do. Such cases must be treated differently,” it said.

The bench passed the order while quashing criminal proceedings against a government doctor in Maharashtra against whom a FIR was lodged by a nurse working under him. She alleged in her complaint that she was in a live-in relationship after falling in love with him and indulged in a physical relationship as he promised to marry her. She lodged the case after the doctor married another woman.

The doctor approached the apex court after his plea to quash FIR against him was rejected by Bombay high court.

The bench, after examining the complaint filed by her, came to the conclusion that the case of rape is not made out against him. The court noted that the lady had herself admitted that she had fallen in love with him and she started living together as she needed a companion as she was a widow.

“They were in a relationship with each other for quite some time and enjoyed each other’s company. It is also clear that they had been living as such for quite some time together. When she came to know that the appellant had married some other woman, she lodged the complaint. It is not her case that he has forcibly raped her. She had taken a conscious decision after active application of mind to the things that had happened. It is not a case of a passive submission in the face of any psychological pressure exerted and there was a tacit consent and the tacit consent given by her was not the result of a misconception created in her mind. We are of the view that, even if the allegations made in the complaint are taken at their face value and accepted in in their entirety, they do not make out a case against the appellant,” the bench said.

The lives of coal miners don’t matter.

‘On November 8, two women activists were assaulted and left for dead because they were following the illegal mining trail. This is how bad the coal mafia is in Meghalaya.’
‘Most politicians own coal mines, some policemen own coal mines and some in the administration own them.’

‘So what you have is a nice cocktail and everybody is protecting each other.’

On December 13, at least 15 men went down a 370 feet deep illegal ‘rat hole’ mine in the Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya to extract coal.

A fortnight later, three helmets have been found, but nothing else.

Even as the families of the miners pray for them, Kyrmen Shylla, Meghalaya’s disaster management minister, has pinned his hopes on ‘God’s grace and some miracle’ to keep them alive.

The manner in which India is handling this humanitarian crisis is in stark contrast to the successful rescue operation in Thailand to save a young football team and their coach, where India played a key role by sending high-powered dewatering pumps.

“Very little was done. Now even if you do it, it is too little too late as those people are dead anyway. You cannot survive in a rat hole coal mine for 14 days

Indian Women can rent out their wombs once in her lifetime! (New Surrogacy Law)

From April 2017 to March 2018, only 3,276 children were adopted in India. Photo: HT

Adoption may get a leg-up in India following the passage of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, banning commercial renting of wombs and allowing only “altruistic surrogacy”.

According to the Bill, all except legally married Indian couples who otherwise would not be able to conceive will be barred from opting for surrogacy. Besides, only a close relative can become a surrogate for “medically proven infertile” couples.

Experts claim that the stringent rules and regulations may encourage couples to turn toward adoption. “As surrogacy services were easily available, people used to hire a surrogate for having a baby, no matter if they were married, single or same sex couples,” said Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research.

The couple also has to be legally married for at least five years and possess a certificate from a doctor stating that they are
medically unfit to produce a child, according to the provisions of the Bill.

Singles, homosexuals and live-in couples cannot apply for surrogacy. Besides, couples who already have children will also not
be allowed to opt for surrogacy.

The Bill entitles only Indian citizens to avail of surrogacy, whereas foreigners, NRIs and PIOs are not allowed to commission
surrogacy in the country.

According to the provisions of the Bill, women within the age group of 23 years to 50 years and men aged between 26 and 55
years will be eligible to go in for surrogacy. The child, thus born, will be deemed to be the legal offspring of the intended
couple. Also, a woman can be a surrogate only once in her lifetime.

The Bill was approved by the Cabinet in August 2016. It was introduced in the Lok Sabha in November 2016 and was later
referred to a parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare in January 2017.

Once enacted by Parliament, the national surrogacy board will be constituted at the central level, while the states and Union territories will constitute the state surrogacy boards and state appropriate authorities within three months of the notification by
the Union government.

With no law governing surrogacy, India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from different countries. There have been
incidents of unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers and abandonment of children born out of surrogacy. Apart
from protecting women from abuse, the bill also aims to protect rights of children born out of surrogacy

Highlights of Transgender Bill

The Lok Sabha yesterday passed the Transgender(Protection of Rights) Bill, which seeks to define transgenders and prohibit discrimination against them.

 The Bill, which was introduced in 2016, was passed with 27 amendments, including an amendment on the definition of “transgender”. Originally, the Bill defined transgender as a person who is “neither wholly male or wholly female, or a combination of female or male, or neither female nor male”.

This definition was widely criticised as insensitive. The Standing Committee, to which the Bill was sent for scrutiny, suggested amending the definition of trangender as “transgender person means a person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-man (whether or not such person has undergone sex re-assignment surgery or hormone therapy or laser therapy or such other therapy), person with intersex variations, gender-queer and person having such socio-cultural identities as kinnar, hijra, aaravani and jogta.”.
Yesterday, Union Minister for Social Justice Dr. Thawar Chand Gehlot said that definition has been amended in the Bill as per the recommendation of the Standing Committee. The amended Bill also provides for a definition of “persons with intersex variations” as “who at birth shows variation in his or her primary sexual characteristics, external genitalia, chromosomes or hormones from normative standard of male or female body”
Highlights of the Bill
Prohibition against discrimination : Clause 3 of the Bill prohibits discrimination of transgenders in relation to opportunities for education,
job, health care services, and access to services, accomodation, transport etc.
Right to be recognized as transgender : Clause 4 states that every person has a right to be recognized as a transgender.
recommendations of a District Screening Committee, which will comprise the Chief Medical Officer, District Social Welfare Officer, Psychologist or Psychiatrist, and a representative of transgender community Procedure for transgender recognition : The Bill lays out procedure for recognition as transgender, as per Clauses 6 to 8. The certificate of identity has to be obtained from the District Magistrate, who will issue the certificate based on the
Establishments not to discriminate transgenders : Clause 10 imposes the obligation on establishments to not to discriminate transgenders in
relation to employment, promotion, and other job benefits.
Right of residence : No transgender person shall be separated from parents or immediate family on the ground of being a transgender
Government is mandated to formulate welfare schemes for transgender persons.
National Council for Transgender Persons is sought to be established.
Offences : Compelling a transgender person to indulge in begging or bonded labour is made an offence. Also, denial of right of public passage
to a transgender and forcing such a person to leave household are made offences
The Bill is stated to be introduced as per the 2014 judgment of the SC in NALSA v Union of India, which recognized transgender identity.
Concerns Flagged Over The Bill
Several members objected to many clauses of the Bill.
Dr. Shashi Tharoor MP said that the Bill wrongly assumed that all persons with intersex variations will be transgenders. He also objected to the
requirement imposed by the Bill to get a certificate of identity from the District Magisrate.
“Self-identification as transgender should be the only basis. My amendment expressly forbids subjecting transgender persons to a physical
examination & ensures all transgender persons are protected against discrimination, even those who may not have a certificate of identity”,
Tharoor said in a tweet.
It was also pointed out that corresponding amendments should be made in several other laws like IPC to include trasngeders. For example,
definition of rape under Section 376 IPC deals with crime committed against a female.
Supriya Sule (NCP) said a transgender commission at the national level was not enough. “We are asking for a welfare board for transgenders.
They need equal rights,” she said, demanding a helpline number for the community.
The provisions mandating certificate of identity from a District Magistrate for recognition as a transgender are criticised as against the spirit of
NALSA judgment. The SC had upheld the right of transgender person to decide their “self-identified gender”. The criticism is that forcing a
transgender person to undergo screening to establish identity is invasive and insensitive, violating right to privacy and dignity.