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Police to ban women as bartenders in B’lore
Bangalore, Dec 23 (IANS):
Published on 23 Dec. 2009 11:07 PM IST
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In the wake of abduction of 12 bar girls by armed thugs for ransom in Bangalore last weekend, the city police are seeking a ban on employing women in such jobs. While police cite security of women as the reason for such a ban, women bartenders contend it would eat into their source of income. ‘If the city police have their way, I will lose my job. My entire family depends on me. I am quite worried,’ Shohthong Neithiem, a bargirl at a posh pub here, told IANS Tuesday. Shohthong’s concern, shared by her female colleagues, arose after Police Commissioner Shankar Bidari earlier said he has written to the state home department, calling for a ban on employing women as bartenders in the city. Bidari told the home department that the city police do not have enough personnel to provide protection to women bartenders who return home late in the night as bars can serve liquor till 11p.m. In his letter, Bidari says: ‘The Supreme Court ruling which allows women to work as bartenders in hotels, restaurants and bars is misused in the city.’ ‘Women are not only employed as bartenders, but they are also forced to get into live bands which are illegal, and also pushed into sex work. This is a misuse of the apex court ruling and the police manpower is being wasted in trying to keep a watch on bars which are violating the rule,’ he said. In Saturday’s incident, six armed men riding two-wheelers blocked the jeep taking 12 bargirls on their home-drop around midnight, bashed up the driver and drove away the vehicle. The thugs later made calls for Rs.1 million ransom to the bar-owner. The traumatised women, employed by a pub in upscale Koramangala, about six km from the city centre, were rescued after over four hours of chase, which ended 35 km away from Bangalore. Police fired at the gang members, injuring two of them. Three policemen were injured when the thugs attacked them with knives and clubs. While three gangsters were arrested, three others escaped and police are hunting for them. Agreeing with the women bartenders’ concern about job loss, Bangalore’s women’s rights groups feel that police have no right to stop the fairer sex from pursuing the career of their choice. ‘If women are showcasing their skills in various fields, what is wrong in allowing them to work in bars with adequate safety and security?’ asked Donna Fernandes, a member of Vimochana, an organisation working for the right of women to work with dignity. Echoing Fernandes was K.S. Vimala of the Janavadi Mahila Sangathan: ‘In the name of safety and security of women, their right to work could not be denied.’ ‘Sexual harassment of women is happening in other work places. That does not mean, we’ll stop them from working altogether. What is needed is proper safety and security for women at their work places,’ she said.

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