Heera Mandi: A street corner by the mosque

Published: December 2, 2011

Heera Mandi was sickening, noisome, dangerous and disgusting.

Last week I visited Heera Mandi, Lahore’s red light district, which is situated right outside the Badshahi Masjid. Yes, ironic indeed. I didn’t actually go because I wanted to, but let me give some background. As a true newcomer to the city, I had to visit the famous beautiful masjid at least once — I’d been there twice before when I was younger, but its grandeur never ceases to amaze me.

Per a friend’s suggestion, my husband and I went to Cooco’s Den right outside of the mosque, a beautiful intricately designed cafe that overlooks the masjid. As we entered the cafe, I saw a pencilled drawing of a group of voluptuous women who had their backs turned and weren’t clothed from the waist up. It seemed an odd depiction of typical Pakistani women, until I came to realize that it wasn’t. The artist (and owner of the cafe), Iqbal Hussain, grew up in Heera Mandi and created works that showed the women he grew up around and was a child of — prostitutes. As we sat on the roof of the cafe, my husband indicated to a courtyard surrounded by buildings that used to be brothels, and may still be to this day. Built during the colonial era, the buildings were now locked up and shackled. They had a beckoning yet haunting beauty, as if guarding centuries’ worth of dark and hidden secrets.

Beyond the courtyard was the red light district, alive with lights, music, and people. I had read about Heera Mandi in the book Moth Smoke by Hohsin Hamid, so I had some idea of what that area was like. However, I’ve been a sheltered kid most of my life. I grew up in northern California – a pristine, sunny bubble with picture perfect beaches and mountains, and a culture rich with diversity that never takes itself too seriously. I wanted to see it for myself, to see what it was really like.

I’ll tell you what it was like. It was sickening.

It was dangerous and disgusting. Trash was piled and rotting in the open, distilled sewerage clogged the pathways, and buildings were crumbling from decay. The police don’t bother with regulating the area and if you report that you got mugged or harassed there, they’ll turn on you and question why you even went there to begin with. As we walked along the street, my husband pointed to a young man and told me he was a pimp. My jaw dropped. He could have passed for anyone; he looked like he had walked out of Eid namaz. He had a clean complexion, full black hair, wore a black topee and was dressed in pressed white shalwar kameez with a forest green dupatta draped evenly around his neck. He looked so fresh, yet so unassuming. He had one arm resting behind his back and was discreetly scanning those passing by, most likely for potential customers or girls to employ. We walked further along and from a distance I could see a group of women gathered on a rooftop. One of the girls saw me and started waving.

“Assume any girl that’s lingering on a balcony, doorway, or on a rooftop is a prostitute,” my husband instructed.

It was a safe assumption to make. Unless you wanted to make some cash, there was no reason why any girl would be hanging around in the open in Heera Mandi. We turned a corner, and I noticed two boys to my left. They seemed like normal twelve or thirteen-year-olds, but when I looked closely I saw one of them was holding something to his mouth that he’d flick to the ground. He walked with a self-assured swagger like he owned the place. He saw me gape at him and snickered, revealing his decaying teeth. He sauntered off, pointing back at me and laughing with his buddy.

We walked up the road some more, the smells of spicy food mixed with the open sewage emanating around me. I felt someone watching me and looked up to meet the cold stare of a girl my age. She looked down at me from a balcony, her dark hair cropped and in disarray. She wore a jet blue kameez with her sleeves rolled up and gripped the railing, her arms spread out wide and posture leaning in. She wore an expression of listlessness like she’d been standing on that balcony every day of her life for the past twenty-some years. But what struck me most and sent chills down my spine was her gaze. Her eyes bore right through me and were completely empty. As I looked back at her, she continued to stare at me, her eyes pitch black. We walked further up the road and I saw an elder woman sitting on a stoop in front of a building, her arms crossed and resting on her knees. Her hair was in a messy bun and her expression was tired and worn, yet her eyes were alert. She peered at me closely as I walked by her. The way she was guarding the building showed that she could have been a prostitute.

As we made our way back to the main street to grab a taxi to head home, my husband showed me a park that was near the entrance of Heera Mandi. He told me that this park was built by the main guy who ran the district – the “big pimp.” He gave a lot of money to local ministers and was friends with some of the politicians, too. Sometimes he’s seen strolling in the park, flanked by two girls on his side.

It’s hard for me to write this, but it’s very real and exists right outside our doorstep. Whether we’ve strolled through the Badshahi Masjid or Qila before, or eaten delicious chicken karhai from Heera Mandi, we’re all connected to this in one way or the other and it needs to be talked about. I’m sad that people here know about Heera Mandi but are immune to its sicknesses. No matter that this is a Muslim country that espouses “Muslim ideals” in its constitution. Too many misguided individuals are focusing on things like heathen Western ideals poisoning our region instead of attacking the real illnesses of our society

Stuff like the economic system that makes young women and girls enter this profession, and keeps them and their daughters in it because they have little way of getting out. If they leave, they’d have to face a very unwelcoming and judgmental public that would be reluctant to take them back into normal society. Stuff like thirteen-year-old kids smoking and doing drugs and no one accounting for them or asking why they’re roaming the streets in broad daylight when they should be in school. Stuff like pimps scanning the streets for customers, asking them if they want to “have some fun,” or pick up some girls to bring in some dough for themselves. Stuff like those very men giving funds to the government so they can be left alone. Stuff like orphans from the 2010 floods or the 2005 earthquake who are kidnapped and then trafficked into sexual slavery and exploitation under the guise of getting adopted. That’s the stuff we should be decrying on talk shows and do something about, whether by making demands from our policy makers, supporting an NGO, or taking the initiative to start our own projects to end the cycles of abuse and exploitation ourselves.

Alina.Din

Alina D

Alina recently relocated to Pakistan from California, where she was born and raised. Her favorite author is Jane Austen and she could live off of brownies for the rest of her life if she had to.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Nandita.

    Author – Are you for real ? What gives you the right to judge and gawk at people like that ? what do you know about poverty ? About misery and helplessness. Don’t judge that lady whose eyes ” bore right through you ” What do you know of her past ? what do you know about the circumstances that let her to this profession ? She might have a 10 year old kid. She probably thinks that it’s better to sell her body than watch her kid die of hunger.Given a choice, she would have loved to be born in your family and enjoy all the priviledges. But as fate would have it, she wasn’t. She was probably left to die in some gutter by her parents. She’s making the best of an impossible situation. With no skills or an education and mouths to feed, what choice would some one like her have ? So, point is -go back ! This time don’t be sickened. Try helping them. Try Educating those 12 years olds perhaps ? Huh ? Maybe that would stop them from growing up to be the pimps u look down on !Recommend

  • fahad

    Dear sister
    very true what u right about ‘Tibi gale’ but what do u think its possible for person to remove this deep rooted bad culture from Pakistan ? i think state can do any thing if they want
    but in Pakistan this ‘ignore list” culture has been develop for last 60 year. i wish one day we could see a real state of Pakistan Ameen .& plz do translate your writtingz in urdu . million understands Urdu only hundred understand English Recommend

  • Nandita.

    In the last para you’ve said that these people would be judgemental of prostitutes even if they left the profession but your narration is also doing the same thing. It is pretty apparent by what you have written that you too were so disgusted and put off being around them. Recommend

  • ekbal

    Sad, but true.

    No one can stop the ‘oldest profession of the world’.Recommend

  • aamz

    As you quoted the whole trip, seems to be the since many years ago ….. There are many people who have taken initiatives but to some extent … but these are a part of our society and may be carry on many years to come. :(Recommend

  • Red

    Good article.Recommend

  • murtaza

    huh…when some domesticated woman steps out of her closed environment in the guidance of some Man and gives judgements about people …..oooo how ewwwwww they are …..they must be helped out….. I am too delicate to see them suffering …..

    those people have God and they will ask him for help and forgiveness . you can keep your princess sympathy to your own pity little self.Recommend

  • Minto

    Wonderful article Alina! Indeed many girls are forced into prostitution and have been suffering just too long because of societies’ negligence.

    Lest the liberal zealots start their rant on the need to legalise prostitution, why not actively help these women learn useful skills (like embroidery) and gradually bade good riddance to this women-objectifying profession! Recommend

  • N A Layak

    What an amazingly shallow article.Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Its interesting to see that “the oldest profession” can’t be judged wrong but should be esteem in the eyes of some. The reality is as this blog says the economic system that makes young women and girls enter this profession, and keeps them and their daughters in it because they have little way of getting out.
    Its social enslavement of the worst kind and these souls must be liberated. Recommend

  • M Asif

    You’re really that sheltered that you’d think thirteen-year-olds smoke only in Heera Mandi? Maybe you should take a walk around the more posh parts of the cities to glimpse what goes on there. Everything you saw in Heera Mandi, garnished with class, of course! As for prostitutes, please, they’re not hiding behind some guise of virtuousness, so it becomes easy for bigoted people to target them with their America-returned neat and tidy-ness. I’ll have you know that every other street in the country is littered, has gutters and is largely ignored by the police. Yet you choose to pick on the one place that identifies itself by what it is, a red light district. Recommend

  • Sherdil

    No offense but your husband knows quite a lot about that place,I smell something fishy fishy…Recommend

  • FR

    This is the most naive and immature account of prostitution I have ever read. You seem to be talking about these people as if they aren’t human. you might not realise but your account comes across more condescending than sympathetic.

    Also, I love how your husband knew who was a prostitute and who was a pimp. Not presumptous at all!Recommend

  • shuja

    @Nandita.:
    thumbs up…!!Recommend

  • Sarah

    I understand that you intended for this article to come across with the message that we need to focus on eliminating the circumstances that lead people to discussed profession. But unfrotunately, your write-up and description of the experience came across as highly judgemental, narrow-minded and downright condescending. To just assume someone is a prostitute, pimp or the likes by way or where they were when you took your leisurely stroll in Heer Mandi is demeaning to say the least. It seems like your husband and you went through the street pointing and labelling. I agree the profession exists but you or me cannot fathom what circumstances led to it. So safe to say instead of bringing Islam, poverty etc into it, we need to focus on bringing a message of acceptability into our rhetoric. We speak of change but we’re also the first to condemn. New beginnings will start when instead of pointing fingers labelling prostitution as sickening, we welcome prostitutes and children of prostitutes (who did not get to choose where they were born) into the mainstream and deem it alright for them to get an education along side ourselves. The fact that they are looked at as bastards is akin to dooming them to the unfortunate lives of which they were a product.Recommend

  • http://www.micropakistan.com.pk Hakim

    Your post explains a place that makes most people uncomfortable, but it is not limited to Lahore’s Heera Mandi. Next time when you’re in the US, ask someone to take you to the many red light districts in ‘pristine’ California. Prostitution is and always has been a part of the human condition. The most developed and wealthy societies have not been able to wipe it out completely. In fact, red light districts in many rich countries are thriving. Economics has a role to play in this, but there are many other factors. You should nevertheless be grateful to your husband for showing you the real world! All I can say is don’t be so quick to judge. The world is much more complex and interesting than northern California.

    If there is any economics in all this, it is simple market economics – supply and demand. You point out how supply is an issue. How so many women and children are forced into this. Do bear in mind there is a market out there for this. The pimps get paid money and their customers come from within the society we all live in. Maybe the problem lies there.

    Also, moral debauchery exists at both ends of the spectrum. Next time you should go check out a rave or some such party in Lahore. Recommend

  • SaudiRules

    “Too many misguided individuals are focusing on things like heathen Western ideals poisoning our region instead of attacking the real illnesses of our society”

    According to aurhors own account she is:
    “However, I’ve been a sheltered kid most of my life. I grew up in northern California – a pristine, sunny bubble with picture perfect beaches and mountains, and a culture rich with diversity that never takes itself too seriously

    Have you ever thought that as a “sheltered kid” your parents fed you with the exaggerated lies/story about the life in the citadel of islam, the land of the pure, Pakistan?

    Welcome to real pakistan! People are muslims in name only. Like you they show only outward expression of islam, burqa, abaya, long beard, ankel lenght pants etc. Brainwashed into believing in a mythical “greatness” of the religion, armed forces, conspiracies that world is constantly planing for our demise and many many other things far removed from the reality (like yourself).Recommend

  • ukmuslim

    narrow thinking… shallow articlesRecommend

  • Mrs Archaeopteryx

    I have also visited this area and observed the same things, but I could never describe them as eloquently as the author. I also know that comments by “outsiders” would be greatly resented. I think this author is Pakistani and she has great gift for writing and describing. Nandita has missed the point – sometimes it needs visitors to point out the wrongs they observe. For people who live in this area, what they see is “normal”. However, it is not up to visitors to DO anything about it – they just try to raise awareness and then hope that those in power will understand the problem and address it. Recommend

  • Safir

    Prositution is world oldest profession and its a shame for mankind to not providing there needs
    and its a reason now bankgok is famous for and there king want to change the country famous trade mart and philipines is also very papuler destination for this thing and dont forget
    bombay india and westren brothels houses.Recommend

  • mast

    It’s kind a strange that author talks about the beauty of California yet failed to write the fact that California is home of the biggest porn industry in the world as well. The large scale heera mandi with all bells and whistles. She might have saved some effort to come to Pakistan and visit Heera Mandi, and just take a drive in Cali to see modern looking blonde prostitutes. They might not be as filthy looking as is in Lahore. Recommend

  • Ali

    I’m a bit confused..you know there are red light district in california right??..unless you studied at a madrassah in california you ought to know that!…so is your problem with heera mandi to do with the general lack of hygiene in our red light areas? in which case, have you visited brothels in california to do a comparative?

    Also, as others have noticed…your husband seems to know a lot about the area! hope he’s not as bigoted as you.

    As you yourself quite lightly put it ‘stuff’ like economic system (typically Californian expression I assume) is whats at the root of prostitution, which btw is not restricted to a particular place like Tibbi gali (heera mandi) but has a much more decentralized existence today, where women are trafficked for the consumption of the rich and powerful. In fact, if anything heera mandi as a town has much more of a cultural significance where women engage in other ‘arts’ besides prostitution and for a state that cared, would be a much better place to monitor things like abuse, health etc of women, rather than the more decentralized prostitution networks that mix with god knows what other businesses.

    clearly, you have a lot to learn about this country, but the first step would be to not be judgemental and break down some of your pious assumptions

    good luckRecommend

  • Alina D

    @Nandita – I’ll have to make something clear here and apologize to everyone I offended. The purpose of this blog was not in any way, shape or form to look down on the prostitutes I saw. When I said Heera Mandi is sickening and disgusting, I meant the environment and conditions its residents must live in, NOT the people themselves. Because I’ve never been exposed to anything like this, my shock may have been more felt than someone who is used to seeing it, perhaps. In highlighting the squalor of their desperate situation (from the little that I had seen), my aim was to show that change needs to happen in our perceptions overall. I wanted to let readers know of a district that exploits people that is right outside a tourist attraction. I think there needs to be a structural change in the system to people can break out of these cycles and empower themselves. What they choose to do is their free choice, but it’s a matter of making those choices available to them, and I would be the first to support any effort to help them break free and have equal access to education, varied job opportunities, better living standards, etc. These people are human beings who deserve just as much respect and opportunity as anyone else. Sorry it came off the other way around! :(Recommend

  • sajid

    @ author
    I also want to say that pretty much every street in Pakistan is dirty,littered with rubbish and has overflowing gutters. And oh yeah our police doesn’t only ignore crimes in heera mandi it ignores crimes no matter whereve they occur.Recommend

  • http://bakedsunshine.wordpress.com Shumaila

    ^ What Nandita and Sarah said. This was way too superficial and condescending. Disappointing read on the topic. Recommend

  • Alina D

    Correction: my aim was to show that change needs to happen in our perceptions and society overall.*Recommend

  • http://facebook.com/abbas9980 M.Abbas

    @FR:
    very good dear…I agree…specially the husband partRecommend

  • http://www.oocities.org/~oldbrit/Keatonpies.html Custard Pie Chucker

    The whole issue regarding the sex industry is extremely complex and as with most industries there is a lucrative side as well as a dark side. Looking at it in a simplistic way achieves nothing.

    I mean, what were you expecting a pimp to look like? Should he have had a wooden leg, an eye patch, and a hook for a hand while laughing like Gabbar Singh the villain.Recommend

  • narayana murthy

    Is this your first blog?

    You have tried too hard. Too many adjectives and too many unnecessary details and also repetitive and boring.

    And frankly speaking, it lacks information. Any red light area will have everything you described. It will have well dressed pimps, staring/gazing girls, drugs/alcohol and the squalor. You haven’t given any additional information here.Recommend

  • narayana murthy

    Just a small tip on how you can improve your writing. This is coming from a screenwriter to a blog writer.

    You wrote : “We turned a corner, and I noticed two boys to my left. They seemed like normal twelve or thirteen-year-olds, but when I looked closely I saw one of them was holding something to his mouth that he’d flick to the ground. He walked with a self-assured swagger like he owned the place. He saw me gape at him and snickered, revealing his decaying teeth. He sauntered off, pointing back at me and laughing with his buddy.”

    This can be improved as “turning a corner, I noticed two twelve/thirteen year olds, strutting with a swagger, like they owned the place. One of them, takes a shady object from between his lips and flicks it to the ground, gaping at me, snickering and revealing his decaying teeth. Later they would walked away, laughing, perhaps at us.”

    This is just off the cuff. You can improve it a great deal, if you invest some time.Recommend

  • sohaib

    nice but naive. heera mandi exists in pockets in Karachi..you will see a prostitute standing on a number of nooks and corners of the defence and clifton..unless the government is morally inclined to curb this..i would say it is relatively better to have it in one place rather than spread this menace around the cityRecommend

  • sajid

    why is ET not publishing my comment seriously it was just an observation.
    It seems like your husband knows a lot about this place.Recommend

  • /Lahore ALi

    When you write about Heera Mandi do not just write about TIBI CITY but also mention some other areas like IQbal Town , Defence, or not to miss three star or four star hotels of Lahore. All these places are new Heera Mandi.Recommend

  • Jasmine

    Jasmine takes offence to this tale. Very very much. Look around you, Princess, whores don’t just reside in Heera Mandi.Recommend

  • Maria

    Are you for real? I live in Northern California and I can tell you that the sex industry there is as vibrant as it is in Los Angeles and Southern California which is the world capital of the Porn Industry. Look up where Vivid Entertainment is based! I think you know only too well what 13 year old children are routinely doing at school parties in Northern California. Smoking there among 13 year old teenagers is no big deal compared to what they are smoking! My daughters went to many a school party at that age and told me about smoking drugs in addition to cigarettes in addition to free alcohol and active sex. Yes 13 year olds of all backgrounds and many a Muslim parent has no idea what their ” innocent” children are up to. Just remind yourself that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. Even in conservative Taliban Afghanistan, not only women were abused as prostitutes but also little boys in Bache Bazi. If you think that prostitution has been vanquished from conservative Saudi Arabia or Iran, I suggest you take a quick trip and contact a finder who can link up up with whatever seedy type of sex proliferator you want. If you want to keep things in South Asia, see the biggest brothels of Asia which can be found in Bombay’s Kamthipura district or Calcutta. You writing would be more better if stopped pretending to be naive of the world around you.Recommend

  • khan

    great job alina. it was a great depiction of exactly the case there.what i perceived from your article is that you saw in mere hours what their daily life is like…and the girl staring at you shows the longing of a life she could have…you cannot stop prostitution but you sure can give them a life where atleast they can survive…coz heera mandi is diying and the prostitutes have migrated to the newer part of lahore so the ones left behind are mostly destitutes who barely make ends meet…
    let the girl breath you all…she just clearified what she wanted to say in the article and you people are still bashing her for writing it in the first place….once again great job!Recommend

  • MashalAC

    I felt the author is on the right track in the last paragraph or so, but the judgemental tone throughout the article reflects the typical knee-jerk abhorrence most people in Pakistan have towards Heera Mandi.
    This section of society, and I am talking about that section confined to that geographical part of Lahore, has been the birthplace of many of our celebrated artistes, dating back centuries to the times of the Mughals. Our culture has been shaped by the children born to the women the author views as prostitutes rather than citizens of Pakistan. That Iqbal Hussain’s origins are mentioned and then derided highlights this one-sided focus.
    To judge based on superficial impressions, such as dirty surroundings, and assumptions about intent about the residents of the area, is reflective of that alienation these people are made to feel because we can’t keep our biases in check. It is a sad fact that the Mughals, who represented the height of Muslim power in subcontinent, felt no qualms about having Heera Mandi next door to Badshahi Mosque, but we, the supposedly Muslim society, feels so insecure in its Muslimness that it wants to eliminate the “filth” next door. Recommend

  • seeker

    i cant help quoting Mustansar Hussain Tarar

    “”I went to Heera mandi , ppl call it bazar-e- hussan, I found it as a
    bazar-e -majboori”"

    like all other such centres of the world where the rich feed on the miseries of the poors these businesses are destined to survive.

    IF YOU CAN BEAR SOME MORE GO TO THE PLACES WHERE CHILDREN ARE INVOLVED IN BONDED LABOUR.

    The only solution is work for them, dont just preach.

    HEERA MANDI IS NOT TO BE SCORNED, SOMETIMES, WE AS A NATION, ARE TO BE.Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

    If you want to control human trafficking and help the prostitutes escape unimaginable abuse, the best move is to legalize and regulate the sex industry.

    Most of the problems for which the sex industry is attacked by the pseudo-pious – stuff like disease spread, human trafficking, inhumane treatment of workers at the hand of pimps – arise from the fact that the industry has been driven underground and out of government’s regulatory reach.Recommend

  • MBN

    Lol this place and others like it arent disgusting or sickening, they are a reality of life, and they’re not even a HARSH one. The HARSH reality of life is the hypocrisy inherent in even the supposed best of us. And if you ask me, these people who have no qualms about their DHANDA are the least hypocritical section of our society.Recommend

  • rizvi

    Good article, nice language and description. But we cannot be judgemental, God might forgive them by looking at the circumstances that led them to this place, after all He is the most judge force ever, we don’t know what HE knows.Recommend

  • Leo

    Nothing new in this writing…total waste of time!Recommend

  • Saba

    Beautifully written, compelling, I’m surprised they let you give your non-liberal judgmentRecommend

  • Grace

    @Loneliberal PK: I agree with you. There is a tacit understanding in all nations, Muslim nations included that prostitution is always going to be there. That’s why it’s called the oldest profession and that’s why even strict so called Islamic societies like Iran and Saudi Arabia still have prostitution going on. Since we all agree that it is the abuse of women we wish to prevent, why not regulate it better so women are not excessively harmed. If you come from California, this should be a concept you understand well since the porn and sex industry there is taking active steps to improve working conditions for women there. Unfortunately there remains a lot of abuse of women in the sex trade in California. Think about all the teenaged girls who get abused sexually in the industry in the US every day. As for sickos in California, have you forgot about the Dugaard girl who was kidnapped and kept as a sex slave in a hidden shed / jail for over a decade by a sick couple?Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Grace,

    I never argued that legalizing porn or prostitution would effectively end all abuse of these workers, or put a permanent stop to sex slavery. For now, I’m focussing on progress, not perfection.

    I can say with great confidence that the condition of these workers in places like California is far better than in countries where the industry is hidden underground. Where prostitutes or porn-actresses are afraid to report abuse to the police out of fear that they’ll end up in jail themselves. And where pimps make back-alley deals with the police officers, allowing them a free supply of girls in exchange for letting the trade continue uninterrupted.Recommend

  • zalim singh

    good article.Recommend

  • Dipi Khan

    @Maria:
    I don’t see how people missed the point, the author was being critical of the entire economic and political system that forces young women and girls, as well as boys even, into prostitution. I find it alarming that people are bothered by her being disturbed by the idea of children being forced into prostitution, I’m not sure how you can ever create any kind of justification for that.
    There is a HUGE difference between the porn industry and sex trade, I don’t know how you can even compare the two.
    And I’m sorry, but I’ve done extensive work with marginalized communities in Oakland, CA – and though prostitution is very heavily present and needs to be addressed, it is nowhere near the extent of corruption and rampant child abuse that exists in Pakistan. I’ve lived in both Lahore and Norcal as well, and unless you live in some kind of closet, there is absolutely no comparison. Recommend

  • Maria

    @Dipi Khan: No one is denying that the abuse of women should be stopped all over the world. Be it the abuse of young girls and women in the US sex industry or in the Third World. I think you know that not only the porn industry but the sexualization of children in the US has turned young 12 and 13 year olds into sexual objects. It’s sad and disgusting. When you and the writer ignore this reality it shows me a level of naivite which is shocking. I believe this is why there is so much abuse of women in California – not just in the porn industry and not specifically child porn but child prostitution and sexual activity among kids. Remind yourself about the horrible story of the Dugaard family where a young girl is kidnapped by a California couple, kept in a hidden shed and raped repeatedly by a sick couple for over a decade. You hear these type of stories every few months. If you worked with marginalised communities in Oakland, you would know what kids as young as 11 or 12 are doing for recreation. Yes there is child abuse in developing countries due to poverty and corruption but does that erase the sexual abuse and sexualization of children in California? I would maintain there is more sexual abuse of children in California than in Lahore. There is clearly more poverty associated abuse issues such as using child as labour in developing nations.Recommend

  • Alina D

    @Maria:
    I hope you know that when I wrote “[my hometown was] a pristine, sunny bubble…” I was being sarcastic because it is NOT pristine. My own personal experience as a child/young adult there was such that I didn’t know how bad human rights abuses are in the rest of the world (USA included) till it was rammed right in my face when I walked through Heera Mandi. That’s why I said I lived in a “bubble.” When did I ever say that sexualization of kids in California/USA/the West shouldn’t be addressed? I was just writing about one experience I witnessed as a new resident here, and that we should do something about sex trafficking and exploitation, or at the very least be aware of it. Maybe some readers already know about Heera Mandi, that’s great. But there are people out there who don’t and they are who this blog was targeted to. No need to be such a hater.Recommend

  • Shezray

    @SaudiRules:
    You need to learn to read, please. When she wrote, “Too many misguided individuals are focusing on things like heathen Western ideals poisoning our region instead of attacking the real illnesses of our society” she’s criticizing those same conspiracy theorists you bash on. Recommend

  • Dipi Khan

    @Maria: I’m not ignoring the sexualization of women in the media that is then translated to young girls, that is a huge and pervasive problem. I just don’t see how it’s directly relevant to sexual slavery. The author is specifically writing about her experience visiting the Red Light district in Lahore, it would take an entire different article to talk about the implications of women objectified in the Media on culture. Women aren’t sold as sex slaves in Red Light districts because of pornographic images, they’re sold because men want to have sex. It doesn’t take an analysis of the media to figure out why men have sexual desires. The author’s criticism is simply that there’s an entire economic and political structure that allows for the perpetuation of prostitution. I really don’t understand why that claim is so hard for you to accept.
    And I’m sorry, but you’re the one being naive when bringing up the Duggard case. To make broad generalizations about an entire society based on the actions of clearly crazed individuals is problematic.
    Lastly, no one is denying children prostitutes in the U.S., it is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed. But in case you haven’t noticed, you’re reading a Pakistani blog. Why is it so hard for you to swallow criticism on the system in Pakistan. I suggest you write an op-ed for the SF Chronicle if you want to talk about issues in Norcal. Recommend

  • Amjad

    I don’t know whether I should laugh or smirk when you write this line

    “northern California – a pristine, sunny bubble with picture perfect beaches and mountains, and a culture rich with diversity that never takes itself too seriously”

    I don’t know about how much culture there is in Northern California but certainly I know that the beeches are where I would like to be. I just love the freedom of the California beech culture and the semi naked women who parade around there! Just love Carmel by the Sea and the whole stretch along Big Sur where they don’t take the wearing of clothes very seriously! I have nothing against the clothing optional beeches but it came as a surprise to my proper Pakistani parents to be in the midst of a nudist beech. They had enough trouble digesting the bikinis and scantily clad folks in the more traditional beeches. Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Nandita.: Agree.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Like all industries when it is legalized the wrongs disappear.

    Prostitution is the oldest profession and has to be legalized so that spread of diseases can be checked. This will also reduce human trafficking.

    NGOs in India ask for this often but a Government which is image conscious will not implement it. Recommend

  • aakdar

    Hello every body,

    she just tried to raise the issues of society. instead of supporting her to raise the issue you all young talent are wasting your energy and blaming the society and cursing the writer and her husband. shame on you guys. If you the pakistanis has the energy and courage why don,t you all young people stand up use your vote to select the good candidate so he or she can eradicate the bad apples in the islamic society. you all are still following your elders
    culture and having bangles in your hands. The whole world is laughing at pakistani people and saying look these people who they are voting and who are their leaders.

    Good luck
    go to hell
    DarRecommend

  • Annam

    @Sherdil:
    If you want to critique her article thats totally fine but dont attack her personal life.. thats disgusting!!! You dont know her or her husband!Recommend

  • http://[email protected] T.tariq

    @alina D
    Mostly the comments are like are you real..it is the oldest proffesion..this and that…
    But
    I agree with you that this should be disscussed in talk shows and at least we should try to solve it..what if we provide them with money and they might leave this proffesion or maybe a psycologist might help them in realizing that this profession should not be continued…people at least try thinking of solving rather than arguingRecommend

  • Mirza

    NIce try and good first effort. Hope you do something to help a few of them out. I am not surprised that a lynch mob is chasing you for writing about the cancers in “Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. We are perfect, and happy with no problems just keep sending us some foreign exchange as it is the biggest source of income for Pakistan. We might lynch you for telling what you saw, but we love your money!Recommend

  • Alina

    @Mirza:
    lol :)Recommend

  • Farah Kamal

    @N A Layak: Great phrase, I had to vent out in my big response, but you did a good job putting it all in one sentence. Looooovvvveeeed ittttt!!! Thankyou for replying to this miss goody two shoes.Recommend

  • Farah Kamal

    @Annam:
    Mrs Archaeopteryx Exactly as she does not a damn about Pakistan and that place and the fact that hundreds of Pakistani authors, activists have raised their voices and have been still working on this part of the society. She cheated the whole idea from “Taboo” a research based book written by “Fauzia Siddique”, to me this article appear a poor version of the summary of “Taboo’. Recommend

  • AZ

    @Nandita.:

    I guess you didnt even get to the end of the article. She HAS suggested about what can be done- numerous ways.
    And are you actually supporting prostitution? Ap ko pata ha Islam kya kehta ha isky baray mein?
    Think first.Recommend

  • Alina D

    one more thing: the caption under the picture is terrible. i wish that wasn’t used the catch-phrase of my article, because it was more than just about the squalor of the area – it was about the abject condition of the residents. i wouldn’t blame angry readers for feeling angry if they saw that phrase before reading my article. Recommend

  • KM

    forget the author, i’m proud of us! :) it shows that we’re thinking progressively and also have respect for these women. Recommend

  • Hash

    @Nandita.:
    i totally agree with u …Thums Up :)Recommend

  • Zara

    What a stupid article. Recommend