Hundreds of bar owners and workers in the Nepalese capital blocked traffic and vandalized vehicles Wednesday to protest new closing hours imposed by the government.
The Home Ministry earlier this month issued an order that night entertainment establishments would have to close by 11 p.m. in the Thamel area, a tourist hub and nightlife center in Katmandu. The ministry said it was 'necessary' to impose an earlier
closing time in order to control growing crime in the city.
Hundreds of people working in bars, nightclubs and discotheques forced shopkeepers in the main markets to close their stores. Some protesters vandalized taxis and public vans whose owners had defied their call for a general strike.
The Organization of Nightlife Business entrepreneurs said in a statement their protests would continue until the government withdraws the new closing hours.
Clubs in the past have remained open past midnight until the early hours of the morning.
Update: Providing Jobs
29th September 2008
Prominent women rights activist Sapana Malla Pradhan today cautioned that closure of dance bars and night clubs could force a large number of women currently employed there into prostitution.
"The problems won't be solved without offering alternative jobs to women who have been eking out their living by dancing," said Pradhan who is also a CPN-UML Constituent Assembly member. "The government should provide jobs or else it will
prove that the government is forcing these women into prostitution."
Speaking at a program "Questions at policy level vis-à-vis HIV and AIDS" organized by several organizations including the European Union here in Pokhara, she demanded that the government regulate such dance bars with necessary laws,
instead of pulling their shutters down forcefully.
Update: Prohibiting Off Sales
29th September 2008
Nepal has also begun cracking down on the sale of alcohol and tobacco goods in the Himalayan republic, closing duty-free spirit shops at the sole international airport and confiscating bottles stowed away in passengers' luggage.
The internal revenue department issued the first notification late last week, warning shops that stock essential goods for daily use, like groceries, that they have till Nov 17 to comply with the new rules or face stiff punishment.
Earlier, liquor was available freely in shops throughout Nepal and there was no drinking age limit. Only licensed sellers can now sell alcohol. However, even they need to renew their licence for the current financial year.
Department stores will have to construct separate rooms to display their spirit and tobacco products. Ordinary shops selling essential goods will either have to acquire a licence and build a separate room for alcohol and tobacco products or return such
goods to the manufacturers.