Usually muscular, heavy men whose job it is to maintain decorum and keep up a general air of safety for all the drunk folks in there, bouncers are often called upon to deal with the darker - or drunker - side of nightlife.
If you’re living and going out in specific areas (hi Delhi!), a lot of their job involves dealing with eve-teasers and other harassers. Though even then, there’s only so much the male bouncers can do to make the vulnerable sections of party-goers feel safe when they’re out. For one, bouncers only...bounce - if you will - in action when they see things get physically out of hands. They’re generally unequipped to deal with subtler forms of harassment and abuse which often go unchecked sometimes due to women/other targeted groups not being wholly comfortable walking up to a huge, muscular guy to ask for help.
Then there’s the whole matter of it being a traditionally male-only job. But does it have to be? A women-only bouncer group from Pune certainly doesn’t think so.
Started by Amita Kadam in 2016, Swamini Lady Bouncers (SLB) is a firm of all-female bouncers, who’re employed in clubs and bars across Pune. It started small and slow, with just five recruits and Ambika needed financial help; her husband and mother-in-law were ever supportive and her brother-in-law (who was already in the business) helped a lot with the training. She kept at it and consistently hired more and more women.
Things soon started working out, as nightlife spots around the city started getting more comfortable with the idea, due to the effectiveness of the training. As it stands now, SLB employs 50 women bouncers from around the city who are hired for around 20 events every month.
The women they hire are also immensely good at their job, all of whom are highly trained in self defense, communication and other anti-creep tactics. While some of them did face problems from their respective families before joining this line of work, Kadam says that the deluge of molestation and sexual assault cases in media in recent times have assured them of the importance of the women’s jobs, and that there seem to be no more problems anymore. The women also come from a variety of backgrounds; some of them work as domestic helps or bus assistants, and some are still in college.
Other than fighting the gender stereotypes in the bouncer occupation, Kadam also provides employment to women from the lower-middle class; something that deserves a mention on its own looking at the gender parity in the workforce and the lack of opportunity to the underprivileged classes in India in general.
While this hardly proves that gender parity or sexual harassment at nightclubs is not a problem anymore, it does prove that one person wanting to do the right thing could succeed if they work towards their goal, no matter how limited in scope the goal is.
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