By Arman Sabir
Zeba Raman is a 28-year-old Pakistani sex worker. Born into the profession in Karachi’s red light district of Napier Road, she plies her trade all over the city.
She is celebrating the launch of an initiative to promote health awareness among sex workers.
“We are now revealed to society,” says Ms Raman.
But prostitution remains illegal and anathema to many in Muslim-majority Pakistan. It is an ever-present fact of life, but never really acknowledged. Continue reading
BANGKOK – Prostitution in the Islamic nation of Pakistan, once relegated to dark alleys and small red-light districts, is now seeping into many neighborhoods of country’s urban centers. Reports indicate that since the period of civilian rule ended in 1977, times have changed and now the sex industry is bustling.
Early military governments and religious groups sought to reform areas like the famous “Taxali Gate” district of Lahore by displacing prostitutes and their families in an effort to “reinvent” the neighborhood.
While displacing the prostitutes might have temporarily made the once small red-light district a better neighborhood for a time, it did little to stop the now dispersed prostitutes from plying their trade. Reforming a neighborhood, instead of offering education and alternative opportunities, appears to be at the core of early failures to curb the nascent sex industry. This mistake would become a prophetic error as now the tendrils of the sex trade have become omnipresent in cities like Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi and Lahore, not to mention towns, villages and rural outposts.
An aid worker for an Islamabad-based non-governmental organization (NGO) recently related a story: quickly after his arrival in the capital, he realized the house next to his own was a Chinese brothel. The Chinese ability to “franchise” the commercial sex industry by providing down-trodden Chinese women throughout Asia, North America and Europe would be admirable in a business sense if it were not for the atrocities – human trafficking, sexual slavery and exploitation – which cloud its practice. Continue reading