Due to recent miserable changes in the law, Mumbai bars have had to drop traditional ways for customers to tie up with sex workers. And in an attempt to outfox the police, bar owners have come up with several ingenious methods to keep the ball rolling.
Confirming this was the Assistant Commissioner of Police of the special squad of the city police, Vasant Dhoble, who said recent raids on eight city bars over the last month showed the emergence of new, sophisticated trends:
We came across several bars where a ramp was created and the bar girls were asked to do walk on it, similar to what is done at fashion shows. The bar staff made them wear expensive, revealing clothes to attract customers. The
customers then make enquiries and choose a girl. This is a new trend that we have come across in our recent raids on bars. There is a full-fledged thriving prostitution racket going on in bars.
And how does the money change hands?
Girls walking the ramp get huge tips from clients and the bar takes a considerable cut out of that as commission .
That's not all. When the cops came calling, they seldom found the girls scurrying into hidden cavities and bunkers. Nowadays,
it takes less time to hide girls. During police raids in the past , the security guard used to warn those inside the bar by pressing a switch on the main door, which either set off an alarm inside or turned lights and off. The girls then used to jump
into the bunkers on stand-by. But now, the bars have kept a dedicated waiting man in the bunkers, whose job is to pull in the girls as soon as the raid begins. This makes it faster to hide the girls.
The police claimed that hidden cavities and
bunkers were found at almost all the bars that were raided. During raids, we go around with a sledgehammer and demolish cavities inside the bars. But, they again make new cavities. We have written to the civic department about this. But no action has
been taken yet, said a police officer on the condition of anonymity.
Another new way to outmanoeuvre the eagle-eyed police personnel is to make the bar girls sit down as customers the moment a raid begins. This makes it difficult for the
police to establish if the girl is one of the bar's staff or a genuine customer, said the police officer.