Plea against prohibition on cross-gender massage

The Delhi High Court on Monday posted the hearing on a plea challenging Delhi government’s guidelines banning cross-gender massage services for September 20.

Justice Rekha Palli, who orally observed that the ban was a policy decision of the government, asked the petitioner — Association of Wellness Ayurveda & Spa — to submit a list of its members and the action taken by authorities pursuant to the guidelines.

The association claimed that two spas have been closed down last month for engaging in cross-gender massage and others are being “threatened by the officials on the basis of the new guidelines”.

“Every industry, workplace and businesses have some bad apples but that doesn’t mean that every spa centre across the State is running a prostitution and human trafficking racket,” the plea stated.

The association stated that cross-gender treatment has been “part of the traditional massage practices” and assuming prostitution to be only in the “heterosexual domain” is illogical. It highlighted that there are several places where men and women work together, like gyms and yoga centres, and singling out spas was not reasonable.

The association asserted that spa centres spend a “huge amount on training and skill upgradation” of their massage therapists and the structure of their functioning cannot be altered after the trade licence has been issued by the authorities.

“Defaming spa centres across Delhi as some kind of prostitution hub/ brothels has severely affected the business of the petitioners as customers are scared to visit the spa centres which are already suffering due to COVID-19 pandemic,” the association said.

Health trade licences

Delhi government counsel stated that the guidelines prohibiting cross-gender massages, evolved by a Lieutenant-Governor-appointed taskforce, are in relation to the grant of the health trade licences and were yet to be notified as law.

“It [the guidelines] is yet to culminate into a law. It is just an internal document. It cannot be implemented right now,” the counsel said.

The taskforce was constituted pursuant to a reference received by the Lieutenant-Governor from the Delhi Commission for Women on the working of spas, he added.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 11:02:43 PM |

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