India lets ladies bartend

The nation's Supreme Court gives Indian women a shot at pouring shots.

Published December 7, 2007 10:40PM (EST)

Let's call this a case of women shattering the shot glass ceiling: Yesterday, India's Supreme Court overturned a ban on female bartenders. Indian women are now free to wield martini mixers and swizzle sticks alongside men, reports the BBC.

Until now, supporters of the ban have offered a sole justification: In the interest of women's safety, they shouldn't be allowed in the presence of spirits-swilling men who are, they say, incapable of controlling themselves. (Sounds a lot like victim blaming with a dash of paternalism to me!) In defending the ban this summer, the Delhi government invoked the 1999 killing of Jessica Lall -- a 34-year-old who was murdered after she allegedly refused to serve a group of men drinks in a restaurant. But, interestingly, that case is infamous because the prime suspect, the son of an influential politician, was acquitted. The acquittal gave rise to protests, accusations of a corrupt justice system and tabloid headlines blaring, "How the Rich Get Away With Murder!"

As writer Suhel Seth once said of the ban on female bartenders, "I think it is silly -- this is a government which can't basically enforce law and order and wants to create gender division by saying that Delhi men can't hold their drinks. It defeats logic and intelligence." Here's to hoping the overturn of the ban signals (or will at least inspire) a renewed interest in punishing criminals instead of their potential victims.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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