The is a big gap in the nightlife industry in regards to safeguarding the best interests of women. It’s no secret that the whole topic of partying and liquor consumption is a huge taboo in mainstream India. There exists a shocking absence of conversation and legislative ambiguity regarding the same, and that could be doing more harm than good. 

Some might think that limiting dialogue around the topic of nightlife would discourage the nation’s youth from partaking in the activity, but that’s very incorrect. Not talking about alcohol safety doesn’t prevent people from indulging in it, but promotes an unsafe drinking culture, especially for women, who are then exposed to sexual harassment, alcohol poisoning and a myriad of other unsafe situations. Bars and nightlife establishments need to take some accountability and enforce concrete steps to protect women. 

Here are some tactics bars can employ to ensure the safety of their female customers:

1. If you see a woman leave her drink unattended, cover it.

Women should never leave their drinks unattended. That’s a cardinal rule. But sometimes shit happens. You get tipsy and distracted or have to run to the bathroom and forget. At times like this, staff should keep a watchful eye and cover their drinks with a coaster or keep them at the bar until they return to minimize the risk of women getting drugged. 

2. Have a code word.

All bars should have a code word in an effort to protect women from sexual assault. If a woman is uncomfortable around another customer, she should be able to approach any member of staff and communicate her concerns swiftly in the form of a code word. Why is a code word necessary? Because a lot of time the culprit might be a date or a known individual and women might be apathetic to speak up publicly in fear of judgement or scrutiny. 

3. Keep an eye on body language. 

If you see a woman feeling threatened by a patron in your establishment, put a stop to it immediately. This can include anything from men trying to talk to or touch a woman who is exhibiting signs of reluctance, all the way to active physical violence. No matter how small the matter, no means no. If the issue is minor, threaten them with a warning. If you witness the situation persisting or escalating any further usher them out immediately. Their check isn’t worth sacrificing women’s safety.  

4. Do not let barely conscious women leave without vetting the situation. 

If a woman is intoxicated beyond the parameters of consciousness, do not let her leave without a thorough assessment. Verify if the person taking her home is someone she knows. Ask them to call her phone or check if they arrived together. 

5. Warn women.

As an employee of an establishment, most workers are aware of repeat offenders: the men who lurk around dark corners eyeing their next target, always try to pick up women, have a history of getting aggressive when drunk, have had previous complaints etc. It is your moral obligation to let women know of the potential danger that lies ahead. Do not withhold the information to protect your bar or club’s name or the money that they bring in. If anything, doing so will earn you the reputation of being a predatory hotspot. 

I’m not saying the above tactics are sure shot ways of preventing harm on women. Or the only way. But they certainly help! Nightlife venues need to have stricter protocols and bartenders and bouncers need to step up and do their part in protecting women from sexual aggression.