Dhoble’s SS Branch plans to crack down on ‘silent’ bars

The Mumbai Police Social Service Branch (SSB) has proposed to withdraw the licences of the city’s oldest permit bars known as ‘service bars’ after it was allegedly found during raids that women were being used in flesh trade inside these bars.

Written by Express News Service | Published: July 13, 2012 3:56 am

The Mumbai Police Social Service Branch (SSB) has proposed to withdraw the licences of the city’s oldest permit bars known as ‘service bars’ after it was allegedly found during raids that women were being used in flesh trade inside these bars.

In a scathing review — based on the raids and undercover investigation — the SSB has narrated how women are first introduced to patrons inside the bar,who are then allowed to make sexual advances. As many as nine such bars have been raided with the management booked and women rescued.

Service bars,also called ‘silent bars’ are long dingy,dark rooms that have plain wooden benches as seating. Operating for decades,they are spread across the city,and usually have a smaller room serving as a kitchen and bar. “We found women were made to wait in a separate room. Men,in most of the establishments we probed,were seen entering and reaching for their seats using the light from their mobile phones. These are usually dimly lit rooms,with no light,ventilation or windows. The women are then introduced by the waiters and left to entertain the patrons,” said an officer.

The probe has found that patrons are allowed to make sexual advances on these women in the bar. Among the rescued women,a majority were married and had children,and came from very poor backgrounds.

“We kept a watch for a few days and found that these women would leave at 9.30 pm as the Bombay Shops and Establishments Act imposes a deadline on women waitresses and singers,” said the officer.

During the raid,the management insisted that the women were waitresses,but failed to produce the naukarnama,salary documents,employment contract or any other such document.

“In one Andheri bar,a woman even pleaded to be released as she had a four-month-old baby at home,indicating the state of apathy. Her family did not have knowledge of the illegal trade either,” he adds. The city has around 150 service bars spread across the suburbs.

A further indicator of the flesh trade is the cost of liquor charged in these dingy service bars,where even a mug of beer is steeply charged. The women are also instructed to order a drink,with the patrons made to foot the bill. While the women are instructed to order hard liquor in the presence of the patron,they are actually served soft drinks,ensuring the management makes profit by fleecing the patron.

SSB is making a list of such bars and proposing to get the liceces of such bars cancelled and shut such illegal establishments.

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