As the sun goes down, it feels like it is time for her to leave because like many others she will not sleep even if she wants to, but make up the night of many greedy men out there, searching for her warmth. The night sky has not been that scary to her before but it is now as she staggers momentarily while walking and realizes that it is getting late and her drunk clients might be very furious on her late arrival. But then again, getting beaten up and standing in front of the mirror, looking at her bruised face in the morning is something she should consider normal and routine from now onwards. Sarah has to get up every morning and dress herself up in the most appealing and desirable manner with all those cheap glittering ornaments together with a dark shade of lipstick, which gives her the required seductive look. The higher the price is paid for her, the more chances there are of getting her, and then she becomes his property for that night. Sarah spends the night entertaining and amusing her clients by having intercourse, dancing, getting beaten up and tortured for their satisfaction. Fear engulfs her soul every night and her face is covered with tears and blood, which is routine for her. Like this little eighteen years-old Sarah, there are many unfortunate women out there wandering the streets and selling their bodies for a better price, a better living and maybe a better life which they dream of.
Prostitution is the oldest form of immoral business that unfortunately still exists. In this business women tend to sell their bodies, for intercourse and seductive purposes, to men in return for a better price as a source of earning. Prostitution in Pakistan is associated with labels like ‘Dirty Work’ and the prostitutes themselves are targeted with words like ‘sex worker’, ‘call girl’, ‘hooker’, ‘whore’, ‘kangiri’, ‘streetwalker’ and there remains no room for respect as the word ‘’prostitute’’ itself means ‘to expose’. (Derived from a composition of two Latin words: (preposition) pro and (verb) statuere literally meaning: “to expose”).
Prostitution is a business which is continuously looked upon with disgrace and hatred, but very few know that there exists another side of the picture and maybe the most painful one. 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.
Amongst many humane concerns of our society, one should also be to consider the fact that there exists a life behind the curtain, which is haunted by the most vicious demons but still it survives, it breathes. There lie three categories of the female prostitutes who become a part of this business. First are those women who belong to the elite, rich, well-educated and well-groomed class. They might tell their families a different story about where they are going late at night or in some cases the family may already know and they might not consider that a problem but will choose to refrain from disclosure. This class is lured in this business due to lust, greed, thirst of money and intercourse, to get the attention they lack in their lives, due to some personal problems or there might not be any reason at all, but still they may choose this for the satisfaction they achieve.
The second category includes those who are compelled to join this profession because of poverty and their unstable financial condition, which leaves them with no choice of their own. These women may have no father to support them in this society. They may have no brothers to lend a hand in their finance and to protect them from the myriad of problems that they face and will continue to experience. The major factor discussed in this regard is their inability to pay the rents and bills or even to feed their families, which pushes them hard to adopt prostitution as a profession. However, that does not mean that they tend to adopt it just because of poverty. Poverty is the major factor but another influential aspect is that they are low paid workers. If these women get some high paid job than this profession so would not they be willing to pursue it rather than prostitution which holds no self-respect, no self-esteem and makes the person less of a human being but more of an animal. Their financial instability is the cause of this. This category includes all women forced into this business.
The third category may include those who wanted to keep modelling as their first priority but were later forced to take prostitution as their profession and are threatened by the mainstream of people who are involved in this business. They are forced to act in naked shows and later these CD’s are exported abroad. Once they are disgraced their remains no choice of escaping this menace. 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 coupled with other factors are also included in such cases.
Prostitution is a menacing and destructive custom which may prove to be an evil blot on the face of the society, destroying its culture and traditions. In Pakistan, it remains illegal and is abhorred by all, thus making lives of the prostitutes difficult and not considering the problems and hardships they face on a daily basis. No one could fathom the pain and suffering they go through. Society should abhor those sex-mongers who are the real culprits, who tend to consider their responsibility to abuse these dirty people but continue to benefit from them equally. All we can do is that we can carry out debates and discussions, raise our voices up for the right cause and create awareness due to which the eradication of this menace might become easier. Though it might take time but the real change is never a piece of cake. We have to take the difficult road and choose a difficult journey that might be tiresome and discouraging but once achieved it is truly considered a success by many generations to come and may one day end this slavery which still exists in the form of prostitution.
“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.