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Double Victim

Twenty-year-old Shalu has been dancing in a suburban bar for three years. She pleads the pressures of poverty forced her to opt for this profession.

INTERVIEWS Shalu | 03 July 1996
Double Victim
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Why did you join this profession?

My father died three years ago and, being the eldest of four sisters, I had to fend for the family.With my mother a housewife and my sisters still in school, I knew life would be tough since I've studied only up to class eight. With the money I make here, I can make ends meet.

How much money do you make?

When the going is good, Rs 500 a day. But at times like this, as little as Rs 50.

Do you spend a lot on clothes, make-up?

I just about manage to pay my sisters' school fees. We do not even have a TV. Anyway, my mother manages the finances at home.

Is she aware of your profession?

Of course. The neighbours, however, think that I do some sort of service. They don't know I work in a bar because I don't wear aise-waise clothes.

Are you ashamed of your work?

No. It is just that each person thinks he or she is pure while others are not.

What is it that you want the Government to do for you?

Only to extend our present timings at our workplace. If Raveena Tandon and Madhuri Dixit can wear vulgar clothes and dance in front of the entire country, why can't we in front of a select audience? They do it out of choice, we do it out of compulsion. But nobody objects to them because they are rich and are in films.

Maybe because on screen they are safe whereas on stage you are not.

We are safer within the restaurant among customers than with the police.

What if the Government decides otherwise?

I only have this to say: stop this line only if prostitution is acceptable to you.

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