Friday, February 17, 2006

Pondicherry turns hub for sex tourism

Pondicherry turns hub for sex tourism: "Pondicherry is fast becoming a hub of sleaze with strip bars on the rise. Ironically, some of these bars are actively supported by local politicians. Sex tourists are now increasingly making a beeline for the city. In fact during weekends, it is almost impossible to get a hotel room as clients descend from all over south India.

The team visited the Mass Hotel, which is owned by sitting MLA from Muthialpet in Pondicherry, Bala Subramanium. Tickets here cost between Rs 250-300 depending on the day of the week and the 'act' begins in a hall. Women emerge through a small door at the end of the hall as a live band builds up the tempo. And egged on by the 300 strong high-spirited crowd, the women begin shedding their clothes.

Each day some of the hotels hold three shows at 6:30 pm (IST), 8:30 pm and 10:30 pm. In 30 minutes, these hotels manage to pack in 200-300 customers and earn close to Rs 1.5 lakh a day. The next stop for the NDTV team was the Blue Star Hotel.

NGOs in the city say most of the women, who have been trafficked from Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, are held against their will. Once inside this world, leaving is not an option and the strip clubs end up being a front for a highly organised sex trade.

Nude dances by women are completely illegal in India but these clubs end up being centres of prostitution. And every year thousands of women are forcibly sold off. Crackdowns by the police have been stalled as these clubs managed to get a stay from the Chennai High Court. The clubs maintain they were only holding kalaedchees or traditional and cultural shows.

"This used to happen in the Mass Hotel. Philo Hotel had it too but it was shut down. Nude dances do take place," said a local."

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