The Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), in its bid to check “malpractices detrimental to a civic society”, has issued an order banning therapy or massage of customers by members of the opposite sex in the city’s parlours, salons and spas. 

The order, undersigned by the GMC commissioner, said that the corporation is guided by the principle of ‘Ease of Doing Business’ and has no objection to entrepreneurs setting up saloons, beauty parlours or spas.

It, however, set conditions for granting trade licences.

“There shall not be any exclusive room or chamber within the premises of the parlour/spa/saloon… Therapy or massage cannot be provided by the opposite sex,” the order, dated November 13, said.

It also underlined that provision of steam bath may be there in these salons but under no condition, a person of the opposite sex would be allowed to assist in any way.

“Main doors should be transparent. There should be qualified therapists in spas and unisex parlours,” the GMC order stated.

The corporation further said that addresses and phone numbers of all the customers must be maintained in these trade establishments.

Explaining the reason for issuing this first-of-its-kind order in Guwahati, the GMC said: “Umpteen complaints have been received from citizens alleging several malpractices in certain spas and unisex parlours which have been deemed detrimental to a civic society.

“The corporation is bound to respect public morality and the laws which govern a civic society.”

Rashmi Baishya, who runs two women’s parlours, has welcomed the notification.

“It would be good if the elements running illegal activities, using the guise of this profession, are reined in,” Baidya noted.

An entrepreneur, who owns two unisex spas in Sundarpur and Beltola, however, said on the condition of anonymity that the order will “destroy” businesses of many genuine parlours like his.

“I have licenses valid for the next 10 years or more. Not allowing chambers or separate rooms will devastate the business.

“Women come for manicure, pedicure, waxing, massage and other therapies. If the order is enforced, she might not find comfortable availing these services in the open,” the owner pointed out.

He said Guwahati has an estimated 3,000 parlours with around 8,000-10,000 youths employed in these, and the order might lead to job losses.

“I have two parlours and employ 20 people. How will I run my business if customers don’t come? Many parlours may have to shut shop with local youth ending up losing jobs,” the owner explained.

He also said that an association representing the city’s parlours met some officials of the GMC on Tuesday and raised objections to the corporation’s decisions. 

The GMC, according to him, has promised to look into their grievances.

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