Whenever you go to a Drayang, you would see so many beautiful young girls dancing and singing with smiles on their faces. They appear to be full of life and energy as though they are truly enjoying what they are doing. But behind those stainless smiles often lies the dark side of their life. If you get closer to their hearts and listen to their stories, it would be hard for you even to hold back your tears. But on the stage, they have learned how to hide their darker world to please their guests. Since their income depends on how many requests they can get from their guests in the audience, they are bound to appear as attractive and seductive as possible so that most of the men would pay them for the show. And I know most men go there only with one intention. They see those girls as somebody who can be lured into anything with money. But if we think with a conscious heart, we would realize that those girls are also human beings like us and deserve to be treated with equal dignity and respect, and not to be looked at just as sex objects. If human bodies were transparent enough to reveal the emotions running inside, I think most of the party-goers would be fighting their tears as the girls perform on the stage.
A friend of mine has a very painful experience to share. I know he used to go to Drayangs regularly and had got acquainted even with the owner of one of the local Drayangs in Thimphu. At one occasion, he had informed the owner that he was coming to his Drayang and requested that a beautiful girl be arranged for him. Then as soon as he reached the Drayang in the evening, a beautiful young girl came to greet him saying she was being sent by her Manager to give him company. He was very happy and excited to have such a beautiful girl by his side and they settled down at a corner for casual conversation. But soon the subject took a turn and the girl got the opportunity to share the dark side of her life. My friend was emotionally frozen when he heard how she was left by her husband some months earlier and how she was struggling to look after her breast-feeding baby. My friend learned that it was certainly not her passion that had brought her to the Drayang she was working for. She told him that she didn’t even have enough money to buy supplementary milk for her baby when she was at work. Not being able to imagine the pain she was going through, my friend was instinctively compelled to give her all the money he had in his wallet at that time and advised her to get something for her baby on her way back home. It was an eye-opening experience for my friend because it completely changed his perception about Drayang girls. After getting the money, the girl refused to go back to join her friends on the stage despite being requested by my friend a couple of times. She chose to give him company saying she had the permission of her Manager. Then my friend offered to reach her home but she told him the Manager would reach her later. Then perhaps because of the money she was given, she hesitantly told my friend that she was ready to do whatever he said indicating that she was even ready to pay him back with sex. But my friend felt so sorry for this poor girl and told her she does not need to do any favor for him. My friend advised her to be strong and left her.
Likewise, there are many painful stories behind the smiles of those girls working in Drayangs. However, I don’t mean to show that a Drayang is not a bad place to be. Drayangs are providing a lot of employment opportunities for many girls who would otherwise be jobless and unproductive. Because of the Drayangs, so many girls are able to earn their living and lead an independent life without having to depend on their parents for support. It is just the working environment that makes the girls vulnerable to sexual harassments and abuse as it invites all sorts of people: mostly alcoholics and even drug users. One of my female friends who was doing a part-job in one of the Drayangs had to give up her job after being nearly abused by an alcoholic man claiming to have met her before. So it’s very sad how girls are looked at in the Drayangs. But despite all those risks, many young girls are joining the Drayangs to earn a decent living. We all know that there could be numerous circumstances that could have compelled them to make such a decision. Otherwise, I don’t think they would willingly come forward to work in such an environment where they are expected to literarily go after people begging for requests. Some of my friends who have been to some Drayangs have shared with me how sorry they felt when girls personally came to them begging for requests and for each request for a dance or song, they had to pay the girls. At the end of the day, the income of the girls would depend on the number of requests they have received from the audience. So to win the attention of as many men as possible, they present themselves as seductive and sexy as possible and lure them to pay for their shows. It is this kind of appearance and behavior that generally invite men with evil intentions. It’s not uncommon to hear men often talking about how they have sexual relationships with Drayang girls and when they say it, they say it with pride. The concerned authorities have to seriously explore how to make the working environment for Drayang girls safe and healthy so that they can keep their passion alive forever and lead a meaningful life. There should not be any room for sexual harassment or any kind of abuse in any Drayang and people under the influence of alcohol or drugs must be monitored strictly. Also the opening and closing timing for the Drayangs must be kept within the safe limits so that the vulnerability of girls, both working in Drayangs as well as party-goers can be reduced. So all the girls working out there in Drayangs, please stay strong and be safe. We have only one body per life-time. So take good care of it. God bless you all!