The Gender Beat: Mumbai’s Bar Dancers Apprehensive About New Law; Ola Cabs Pulls Down Sexist Ad

A round-up of what’s happening in the worlds of gender and sexuality

Credit: Reuters/Punit Paranjpe

Credit: Reuters/Punit Paranjpe

Why Mumbai’s bar dancers are apprehensive about a new law

The Hindustan Times has published a report on bar dancers’ reactions to the stringent new regulations put in place for dance bars in Maharashtra.

The law, entitled the Maharashtra Prevention of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Bar Rooms and Protection of the Dignity of Women Act, 2016, forbids ‘obscene’ dancing and the serving of alcohol inside the dance bar, among other provisions. Customers are banned from tipping the dancers. Instead, dancers must receive a salary directly from the establishment. However, the dancers argue that this salary is “the equivalent of a petty allowance,” and that much of their earnings are through tips.

Many fear that the rules are meant to gag the operation of dance bars in the city, which had been banned by the state government for years before a Supreme Court order forced the state government to withdraw the ban.

The dancers quoted in the story express dissatisfaction with what they argue is moral policing in the guise of state policy, designed to gag the operations of the dance bars.

“Neither were the women consulted, nor were their voices heard. Where a fresh beginning could have been made, we have had only moral pontification,” Varsha Kale, honourary president of the bar dancers’ union, a body which has been fighting the state ban, is quoted as saying.

After massive criticism, Ola cabs pulls down sexist advertisement 

A new Ola cab advertisement which elicited massive public outrage was pulled down by the company. The advertisement depicted a man being led through a market by his girlfriend, who keeps stopping and asks him to buy new things for her. At the end of the ad, an equivalency is made between how much the woman spends per hour, and how much hiring a new type of Ola service costs per hour.

After social media erupted with criticism, Ola withdrew the ad, saying “We understand one of our TVCs has ended up hurting some sentiments. We’ve pulled it down. However, #OlaMicro continues to run at Rs.6/km.” Many pointed out that the company’s apology rang false, especially as it used the tweet to plug its new product.

More elderly women in India than men, says study

The ‘Elderly in India 2016’ report reveals that there are 5.3 crore elderly women in India, as compared to 5.1 crore elderly men, says a Deccan Herald report. Until 1991, elderly men outnumbered their women counterparts in the country, but for the last twenty years, it is women who outnumber men. The report says that this is a major policy concern, as elderly women are “more vulnerable” than men. “Appropriate care and support for them (elderly women) is a priority,” says the report.

Kerala mosque opens doors to women for the first time

The Thazhathangady Juma mosque in Kerala’s Kottayam district has opened its doors to women for the first time, says an India Today report. The mosque is almost 1,000 years old, according to the report.

However, the move does not come without a catch. For one, women are allowed on only two days designated by the mosque authorities. Secondly, just because women can enter on those two days, it does not mean that they are allowed to worship.

Meanwhile, a Shiv Sena leader has declared that activist Trupti Desai will be physically assaulted if she enters the Haji Ali dargah, which is the site of her group’s next campaign for women’s right to worship.

In Pictures: Pride in three Indian cities

Gaylaxy has published pictures of queer pride marches held in three Indian cities — Nagpur, Jaipur and Chandigarh — in the past two months.

“While Nagpur debuted on the pride map, making it the third city in Maharashtra to have held a pride parade, Jaipur and Chandigarh held the march for second and fourth time respectively,” says the report.

Female police officers subjected to ‘attractiveness’ inspections in Mexico

Two female police officers in the Mexican city of Querétaro have filed a complaint with the state human rights commission that they had been subjected to ‘attractiveness’ tests by their male counterparts. The Guardian report says that this was part of a selection process for a new female unit, during which women police officers were judged based on their appearance and weight. The city police went on strike this week, asking that police chief Rolando Eugenio Hidalgo Eddy resign.

In his previous post in the state of Aguascalientes, Hidalgo Eddy had created a similar police unit consisting of “attractive” women police officers, who were forced to dress in high-heeled boots, and wear tight clothing and make-up. The practice has apparently spread to other parts of the country. There has been a surge of sexual harassment complaints against the police too, the report says.

Beyoncé’s Lemonade is #blackgirlmagic at its most potent

On April 23, singer-songwriter Beyoncé released her new visual album titled Lemonade. The hour-long debut video from the album features a variety of visuals, lyrics and spoken word poetry (especially the work of Somali-British poet Warsan Shire) that touch upon many themes, including infidelity, love, freedom, and family. As many commentators have pointed out, the video is also a powerful visual and lyrical ode to the power and legacy of black women.

As Syreeta McFadden points out in The Guardian, “She’s bringing visibility to women who are cast aside, underestimated or ignored by the dominant culture. (…) This foreshadows Forward, Lemonade’s most powerful moment, which depicts the the mothers of the Black Lives Matter movement dressed regally and seated in various rooms of an old country mansion, holding portraits of their dead sons: there is Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Leslie McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown; Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin.”