Kathmandu, January 5:

The Nepal Restaurant and Small Hotel Workers’ Union today condemned the arrest of 27 workers following a police raid on the X-Bar at Sundhara on Tuesday night and demanded

the authorities immediately release them.

“The 24 women workers of the Bar were arrested by drunken policemen and they were verbally and physically abused during the arrest,” said Binod Karki, president of the union at a press conference.

Karki said the union would knock the doors of the court for legal remedy against the police excesses.

One of the eyewitnesses of the incident, Tara Bhandary, said “All the policemen were in civil dress and were drunk when they arrested the bar workers. They also manhandled and verbally abused the girls.”

All the 24 ladies and three men are being kept at the District Police Office, Hanumandhoka. Kin of the arrested complained that they were not allowed to meet them.

Vice-president of the union, Niru Shrestha, said the security men harass female workers even when they are returning home at night. “Security forces often ask the girls to dance right on the road during security checks at mid-night,” she said.

Claiming that every citizen has the right to choose profession, advocate Meera Dhungana of the Forum for Women Law and Development (FWLD) said even the Supreme Court has ruled voluntary prostitution as a profession. “It is unlawful to arrest women by male cops and use abusive words against them,” she said.

Around 300,000 people are estimated to have been employed in over 1,500 cabin restaurants, over 150 dance and folk duet restaurants and other restaurants in the Valley. “Among them, over 50 per cent are women and over 60 per cent of them are either married or divorcees,” union president Karki said.