Pub curfew for women in Andhra

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By G.S. RADHAKRISHNA
  • Published 4.05.13
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Hyderabad, May 3: Andhra Pradesh has barred women from clubs, pubs and bars after 10 at night, prompting charges of discrimination from women’s organisations.

It has also banned those under 21 from these places at any hour, despite the legal age for drinking in the country being 18.

The state government today issued a notification telling clubs, pubs and bars to ask women customers to leave after 10pm or face cancellation of their liquor licences. Till now, both men and women could be served drinks in the state till 11pm.

The notification, signed by the excise commissioner, has also asked pubs, bars and clubs to stop serving “free drinks” to women at any time of day.

Since many social events such as weddings are nowadays held in hotels and clubs, the ban could pose a problem for women guests there.

A senior police officer said the step was prompted by several incidents of drunken women quarrelling with auto drivers outside bars and clubs at night. He didn’t explain why the ban targeted only women although men get involved in drunken brawls too.

One incident involving a group of young women, though, had received wide publicity last month.

Some women students of a law institute had fought with auto drivers outside a Jubilee Hills pub and later attacked a TV crew that was filming them. The police have booked the students, some pub workers who helped them during the battle, and the auto drivers involved.

Women’s organisations criticised the notification as “male chauvinistic”. Metros such as Calcutta and Mumbai, for instance, have no gender-based restrictions about drinking in bars or nightclubs.

“Women are not drunkards. It’s unjustifiable to ban their entry after 10pm. Many women work on evening and night shifts. Such discrimination is undemocratic,” said Sandya, organising secretary of the Progressive Organisation of Women.

“I go to pubs to meet friends and relax over a drink after work. Is that a crime?” asked Nirmala Goud, a call centre employee.

A pub representative who didn’t want to be quoted said the ban would hit sales by 15 to 20 per cent.

Some 1.2 lakh women work in the IT and ITES sectors in and around Hyderabad and another three lakh in textiles and cottage industries. The police said that most women customers of pubs and bars come from these sectors, where employees work in shifts.

Andhra Pradesh is the largest consumer of beer and cheap liquor in the country. Drinking among women is common during festivals and social events in Andhra society.

State police chief Dinesh Reddy said the ban on under-21s was meant to curb teenage crime such as snatchings, attacks on women and even rapes, on the rise among drunken young men. In this case, though, the government has apparently not thought of imposing curbs only on the gender responsible.

Anusha Reddy, 19, a student of Reddy Women’s College, said: “It’s sad that I cannot go to the Country Club or Secunderabad Club (for a drink) now.”

Prashant Kumar, 20, rued that he would have to wait one more year to visit discos and nightclubs.