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The government has made it clear to the drayang owners as to how it wants the business operated—change the way the business is operated, or shut it down!

This is a stern position the government has taken and the one that is absolutely necessary.

The many drayang owners are against the government’s intervention. They have arguments but the government’s involvement should be seen in the right perspective.

Our mothers, our sisters, and our daughters should not have to go through these kinds of ordeals, really.

Drayang visitors and business owners know this all too well.

Some drayang owners say that what the girls and women in a particular drayang do, or are forced to do, is their individual choice. What a dirty, evil, and sinister view indeed!

Knowing what drayangs do to our daughters, would you as a father, mother, sister, brother, uncles and aunts, send them there?

But then drayang can be a very professional industry, why not. What the government is proposing is exactly that—a respectable industry that can help preserve the Bhutanese culture and promote jobs creation in the industry.

As it has been so far, our drayangs are sleazy homes where many girls are exploited left and right. We have laws and rules, but if they are toothless, implications in the society could be huge.

Good news we have is that the office of prime minister will henceforth monitor the operation of drayangs.

Drayang will have to have separate team of waiters; artists will not perform dual functions of an artist and server; there will be a dress code for different employees; artists will have to wear “proper” national dress; and perform only Bhutanese songs and dances.

The drayang owners have a good bargain. The government is willing to help the drayang operators in infrastructure reforms through loans and grants.

The regulation of drayangs failed because no responsible agency could take a hard stand. The drayang owners were asked to soundproof the centre, install closed-circuit television (CCTV), maintain a minimum of two-metre distance between stage and audience, and have separate clean toilets and changing rooms for male and female artists.

These are things that can be done easily.

A team from Thimphu Thromde found that most drayangs did not follow or respect these recommendations. 

What is clear from the government is this: If a drayang owner can’t respect the government’s recommendations, he or she must close the business. Their licence will be cancelled.

A change in the business is necessary. There will be pressure but the government must not cave.

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