Links: On bar dancers and travelling with disabilities

These are the two non-filmy pieces I’ve done of late, which is why they’ve been clubbed together. One was a piece on the issues faced by those with physical disabilities who are travelling through Indian airports. It’s worth keeping in mind that there are ways to do security checks that don’t involve forcing a person to strip and remove their artificial limbs.

Aikara’s artificial leg, which she describes as her “lifeline”, is a sophisticated piece of equipment. “It looks a lot like my own leg from the outside,” described Aikara. Taking the prosthesis off is painstaking, both physically and emotionally. Without it, Aikara’s leg is a stump. “That is me at my most vulnerable,” said Aikara. “It’s worse than being naked.” Airport security has repeatedly reduced her to this vulnerable, exposed state in the name of security. On more than one occasion, in supposedly world-class airport terminals like New Delhi’s T3, Aikara has faced insensitive handling from airport authorities. Both junior and senior officers have ignored her disability certificate — according to those who have harassed Aikara, anyone can get such a certificate — forced her to strip, subjected her to offensive remarks, removed her prosthesis.

All this was done in the name of security. In actual fact, what they should have done is frisked her leg and done an Explosive Trace Detector scanner test, which does not require the subject to do anything more than stand still, with all their clothes and prosthesis on.

Sonia_Faleiro_Beautiful_ThingThe Supreme Court struck down the ban against dance bars, which means a number of ladies who made their living dancing in bars will have a job again. Sonia Faleiro, who wrote the wonderful Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars, spoke to me about the judgment and dance bars.   

There appears to have been a carefully orchestrated campaign to portray dance bars as brothels and bar dancers as prostitutes. The media fed the stereotypes of the bar dancer as courtesan, portraying her as the natural enemy of the moral, middle class woman. Once her portrayal as a subhuman vixen was complete, it was only natural that politicians across the board would lack the spine or the common sense to defend her rights. In the war between women ‘good’ and ‘bad’, the ‘bad’ woman was doomed to fail, not just in the court of public opinion but also in the legislature. I’m proud that the highest court in the land has stood up for her.


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