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Published:October 6th, 2009 10:22 EST
The Dancing Girls

The Dancing Girls

By Ignatius Fernandez

At home, we watch cricket matches on TV, especially the shorter version, called the T20, where each of the competing teams faces 120 balls. Brisk batting, sharp fielding and strategic bowling make the game exciting. Sometime ago, at a series of matches, what was on show, besides the cricket, was a troupe of Dancing Girls. Scantily dressed, they gyrated and went through provocative motions, to the glee of the spectators. As the TV cameras panned the audience at the stadium, we spotted the lustful looks and obscene gestures of some in the crowd. Not to conceal their real intentions, some placards announced:
"We are here to watch the Dancing Girls, not cricket."

The paradox was that the very lecherous men, who feasted their eyes on the shapely forms of the young women, would go home to join their womenfolk to condemn the Dancing Girls. What was on show was not just the Dancing Girls and cricket, but also double standards. Such hypocrisy in the East is appalling; probably in the West it is not so.

Watching those women perform, one wondered what prompted them to do what they did. Were the pay and perks irresistible? Were a few moments of limelight so exciting? Were pictures in glossy magazines a reason? Whether we refer to the Dancing Girls at cricket matches, belly-dancers, pole-performers or cabaret dancers, the question is the same: Why?

Perhaps the majority is drawn to the job for the money and glamour. Perhaps some are forced into it by circumstances: an irresponsible father, an alcoholic mother, siblings who exploit the young woman, a physically or mentally challenged child who needs extra care and therefore extra cash, an ailing parent who cannot do without expensive medical attention, an abusive husband who will not let her quit because he spends the money she earns. Besides these, there could be other reasons we cannot fathom.

These women cannot have long-term jobs. When they have lost what they have to offer (physical attraction), younger women will oust them. Drained of what they once had and friendless, they must walk into the sunset with an ache in their hearts which will not go away, and grief they cannot share.

To understand their predicament, and to shape our response, we have to go to the time when Jesus walked the earth. Three instances come to mind. First, the Samaritan Woman at the well, who had already lived with five men (John 4: 7-26). Second, the Sinful Woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her tears (Luke 7:37-50). Third, the Woman caught in adultery, who was to be stoned to death for her sin (John 8: 3-11).

Often in male-dominated Societies, women lose out. The man involved in the adulterous act was not brought to Jesus for justice. The five men who lived with the Samaritan Woman, were not on the scene. The men who sinned with the Sinful Woman are not seen repenting. Unlike the men of His time, Jesus did not condemn the women. Instead, He was compassionate and forgiving.

Ironically, women are as quick as men to condemn their own kind. To such women and their families, here is a poser: `What if one of their daughters chose to perform in public? Would they condemn their own girl or look for excuses?`

For a moment, let us ponder the words of Jesus: "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her" His words changed the accusers into the accused, as they slunk away. Are we without sin? Can we rightfully fling stones at these women? Learning from Jesus, can we not offer them a little understanding and some compassion? Should we not whisper a prayer for them, that someday the Lord will grant them enlightenment, like he did for the Samaritan Woman?