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Tuesday 24, September 2019



Not born into slavery

By: Sadaf Fayyaz, Uploaded: 4th October 2010

“We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true. Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution.” VICTOR HUGO, Les Misérables

“I was a banker, earning Rs. 15,000 in a bank for a 9-9 job. My father died. I don’t have any brother, have three sisters and have to pay house rent. In this profession, I earn Rs. 60,000 to 70,000 and able to meet my expenses.”

Upon getting story of some females, I don’t feel like writing their names. As defined by sociologists, it is the oldest profession on earth. Female Prostitutes in Pakistan can be divided into three major categories. Women who are born into this profession, those who want to make extra money and women who have been pushed badly into this profession. Apart from those who are born into this profession, I am focusing more on those who are either compelled or forced to join this profession under different circumstances. According to data, Karachi has about 100,000 sex workers, Lahore 75,000 and Islamabad about 25,000 sex workers. The estimated number of child sex workers is about 15.000 to 20,000 in Lahore. Approximately 80 per cent of victims are women and girls, with most engaged in the sex trade. These are estimated figures. The United Nations reports that 2.5 million people are trafficked each year.

A wide variety of girls can be easily found in the sex market of Karachi. They are not only local girls but girls from other parts of the country. It’s strange to note that even girls from other countries like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burma and Bangladesh are also trafficked. Almost two hundred thousand Bengali women have been trafficked into Karachi during last two decades. It’s not only teen aged young girls but children under 16 years of age are also victims of it. Forget about the semantics of the language, nothing is held respectable, as the meanings of the word “prostitute” means “to expose”. (Derived from a composition of two Latin words: (preposition) pro and (verb) statuere literally meaning: “to expose”).

Now there are three classes of such workers who are lured into this profession: One is that class which is elite, rich, well-educated, and well-groomed. She knows table manners, speaks good English and holds a tag like banker or an event manager. Any professional tag it could be. This is what they tell their families while going out that they have to organize a show late at night. The above quotes in the start of the article are from such a woman, who publicly tells people that she is a banker. These are examples of typical open secrets. This class could be highly influential as well. A list of VIPs is often attached with them. Poverty is not a factor for this class. Capitalism, consumerism, glamour, lust and greed are the major factors for prostitution in this class.

The second category is that becomes a part of this profession by poverty. Having no father or male earner in the family, this class is less educated, less groomed, and less influential. I have held a myth for years that poverty is the basic factor for pushing women into prostitution. It is, but not a major factor. The question is they are low-paid workers. If some good jobs are offered to them, would they still opt for this abusive and disrespectful profession? The current unemployment rate is something like 15.20%, which would definitely increase unemployment, but definitely control inflation. Can we expect during the upcoming times of joblessness that more females would enter into this profession? Or can we expect more suicides from young people? Girls from impoverished families do join this profession. Poverty and oppression are the major factors for prostitution in this class.

The third part comprises those girls who come to join modeling career and in turn are abused by many people there. Those names aren’t or may not be part of big ramp shows, but they are forced to act in shows the CDS of which are sold abroad at high prices. Once disgraced, they are mostly abused by the mainstream people there. They are not even exploited by males but some well known influential females there too. They are forced to take up this profession, being modeling as their first choice. One such lady shared her story that her family members grew up on her money. She brought them up with this money, educated them and fed them. Now after the siblings have grown up, got degrees from good institutes, they don’t want to keep any contact with the 45-year old sister. She makes them ashamed now. Were they sleeping when she was giving them money? What is the gain she received in the end except some transmitted diseases and shameful old age? Poverty and other factors listed above may apply to this class too.

Apart from discussing it, it is a taboo and moral horror that is more destructive in nature for a society, as an open secret. Even though the prostitution remains illegal and abhorrence to many in Pakistan, it is an omnipresent fact of life, but never really agreed. Women part of it are sympathized and pitied by many but simply no one can help this lot. Despite being social taboo, the sex trade has been revealed to be on high rise with police and other law enforcement agencies, by keeping silent and protecting the real culprits. We can discuss it and hold debates on it, but can’t stop it as the demand and supply is still there. Plus the factors like unemployment, poverty, easy money, human nature, ‘madam’ culture, greed and lust make its eradication more difficult.

As long is these forces are there, prostitution can never be congested. Even those aren’t born into it, aren’t willing to leave this profession calling it as ‘nice’ for them and a source for daily bread and butter. It still remains a relevant issue for a society. According to me, it is not only the oldest of professions, but also the oldest form of abuse and slavery a society can never get rid of.

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Story first published: 4th October 2010






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