Having Sex in Pakistan: Experiences of a young woman

This article was originally posted on Vice. Pak Tea House is reproducing it to highlight the issue. In our society sexual desires are hugely repressed. Lack of sexual education leads to unsafe and unhygienic practices causing long term ills to the youth. The lack of spaces to fulfill the human need of sex has lead a huge part of society to indulge in the practice of phone-sex; a matter normally pushed under the carpet. These matters need to be talked upon and taboos around them need to gradually disappear. Editor

See also: Zahra Haider, Sex Ed & It’s Explosive Debate

Zahra Haider


Pakistan is an Islamic Republic with the highest porn-watching population in the world. That statement in and of itself signifies a particular aspect about Pakistani culture: we are horny and desperate for sex, but God forbid we actually engage in it. Sex in Pakistan is considered a taboo topic. Men generally aren’t judged for it in our patriarchal society but if a woman from a middle-class family or underprivileged background is caught having premarital sex, serious shit goes down.

Read more: Asexuality is NOT a Disease


Women from poorer backgrounds could be victims of various forms of premarital punishment. Punishing women for premarital sex started with former President Zia-ul-Haq’s dictatorship or “Islamization,” which incorporated Zina (stoning to death), and Hudood (punishments such as whipping, amputation, honor killing) into Pakistani law. His government dismissed women’s rape accusations, instead labelling them as fornicators and sending them to jail. These draconian forms of punishment are slowly dying out, but still linger in the mentalities of fundamentalists, imams, and police officers. Shariah Law can also be blamed for many gender discriminatory policies in Muslim societies, such as the lack of support for freedom of speech, women’s rights, and, ultimately, human rights.

Even though I had engaged in sexual relations with almost a dozen people before coming to Canada for college in 2012, it wasn’t something I was open about, and looking back I realize my sexuality was still pretty deeply repressed. Due to all these restrictions on us during the horniest years of our lives, in statistically the horniest country (see the above porn stats) in the world, we were forced to get creative during post-pubescent adolescence.

Achieving an orgasm was done in various ways, including but not limited to: having sex in a car with tinted windows and parked in the middle of nowhere; sneaking into my sexual partner’s home in the middle of the night; sneaking into my partner’s father’s office, which happened to have a bedroom (WTF?). All this was done while making sure that no one in the house was on the prowl to notify my single father who would’ve freaked out (sorry, daddy). Hotel rooms were especially helpful. Islamabad, where I grew up, only has two hotels, one being the Marriott, at approximately $150-$200 a night—which, for a teenager who had to bear the brunt of the currency conversion, was a ridiculously high sum. But alas, in Pakistan, even paying for a sexual sanctuary isn’t enough. The person who booked the room (the guy) would have to go up first, while the other waited about fifteen minutes to ensure no one from the concierge or security caught on to the fact we were about to have wild, rampant pre-marital sex.

And then if you were caught, you had to deal with a shitstorm of rage. My aunt’s boyfriend was beaten to a pulp by my grandfather to “protect her honor.” And when my own parents found out about my own tryst, they threw a completely irrational and melodramatic fit about how I was destroying my future and forbade me from ever speaking to the guy again (after notifying his parents and my school).

Attempting to embrace my sexuality through my clothing was impossible too, because I had to wear baggy, unflattering t-shirts that diverted attention away from the shape of my breasts.

After moving to Toronto just before my 19th birthday, still holding onto the reserved nature that kept me from showing any cleavage whatsoever, I reverted to socializing with my Pakistani peers from back home due to the intensity of my homesickness. But I eventually came to realize that a change in setting has done little to remove the biases of lots (but not all) of the Pakistanis living in Toronto. Hooking up with a Pakistani guy who had a Pakistani roommate made me extremely uncomfortable, due to the conditioned fear of judgement. Eventually, I was introduced to a completely different environment, surrounded by different people with different cultures, values, and mindsets, which made me realize there is no reason I should be ashamed of being who I want to be, but that’s what happens when you’ve been living in a highly judgmental bubble of society.

I’ve never been religious or, I’d like to think, judgmental. But moving to Toronto and walking by Yonge and Dundas on my very first night here was definitely sexual culture shock. Seeing Condom Shack, The Stag Shop, Seduction, and other sex shops so openly in public made me feel a little overwhelmed—not necessarily in a bad way. The subtle racism and exoticization of colored women further overwhelmed me and even slightly grossed me out, primarily because I’m not a zoo animal (even if being told my strange “hybrid” accent was beyond attractive and being seen as an anomaly by some did make hookup culture here all the more exciting). It also made me realize I would never sleep with someone who was ignorant enough to believe all Pakistani women must be religious (yes, this happens) and thus assuming I wouldn’t sleep with them.

Yet as mentioned, I was deeply repressed, I had no idea how to masturbate (seriously) and in my experience, the majority of the men I had been with were Pakistani and not one of them enjoyed going down on me (in fact, a lot became defensive when the topic came up). I personally think it has to do with the misogynistic theme of our society, as well as the fact sons are generally admired more than daughters in South Asian culture which creates a sense of entitlement: they should not be ‘lower’ than women in any way, physically or emotionally. Thus, after I met and started hooking up with men who genuinely enjoyed going down on me, I came to the realization that being with someone who doesn’t partake in oral sex because of unrequited selfish and egotistical reasons, just isn’t worth it. After becoming more comfortable with sexual expression and freedom, I met a couple guys on Tinder—some of whom I had mind-blowing sexual chemistry with, and some who called me too reserved and too “prude-ish” for their liking—as if I’m going to adjust the levels of my sexual comfort with yours, dude.

Most Pakistanis will indulge in premarital sex, and because sex-ed is something that ceases to exist, those who do still end up doing absurd things like overdosing on emergency contraceptives due to being unaware of the allowed dosage and not reading the minuscule, medicinal instructions written in tiny Urdu print. Or even worse, women are forced to have induced, clandestine abortions, often resorting to painful and unsafe methods because abortions are haram (sinful) in Islam and only permitted when the woman’s life is in danger. This basically leaves Pakistanis with no choice about whether they’re pro-life or pro-choice: we are pro-life, for life apparently.

Perhaps we should take into serious consideration that Pakistanis are potentially the horniest people in the world and start treating sex and sexuality for what it is, instead of shunning it and labelling it as “taboo.” Many Pakistani millennials don’t see it that way, and I’m certain they are going to keep having sex in random, obsolete places without viable access to safe methods of contraception while they continue to repress their sexualities. Learning and accepting that people’s opinions of you no longer matter is possibly the most liberating thing in the world. Being indifferent to small-minded judgements and realizing my world does not revolve around theirs, is what helped me combat the weird, toxic judgmental voice inside my head that constantly called me a “gashti” (Urdu word for slut).

All I wanted to be—and what I now am—is an effortlessly confident woman in her 20s who embraces her sexuality and no longer gives a fuck about what people from back home say or think about her. I’ve embraced the transition for those particular reasons but also, being able to save $200 on a hotel room for a quickie and have sex on a bed without the fear of your parent walking in is definitely a major relief.


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9 thoughts on “Having Sex in Pakistan: Experiences of a young woman

  • April 29, 2016 at 2:15 am

    An honest description of “Pakistanis are potentially the horniest people in the world” but also the most ignorant who do not know the difference between fucking and love making — the former is always for personal pleasure, while the latter is for mutual satisfaction.
    The fear of female sexuality has been the main cause of misogyny among the tribal people of Africa and Arabia, and has caused enormous suffering for women for the male inadequacy in sexual performance.
    I expect a vivid discussion on this topic — both from those who wish to learn about women and those who want them repressed.

  • April 29, 2016 at 2:38 am

    Well if you’re not a Muslim:

    I don’t think the porn statistics makes Pakistanis the “Horniest” people in the world. The ones that actually have the most sex will be the horniest. That according to my research happens to be Brazil.

    Secondly, judgment is wrong. I agree with that.

    The guys that I know who don’t go down on a woman is because they find it disgusting. Not demeaning.

    Many people in Pakistan have by choice not engaged in sexual relations outside of marriage. Even when having the chance to do so.
    If you are a Muslim:

    “The above”


    “Verily, those who like that Al-Fahsha should be propagated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not.”

  • April 30, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    i always thought that PTH was a forum where ppl wud discuss and express view on serious issues in a serious manner . this opinionated/judgemental/ fantasy like piece would have been more suitable in a tabloid or an adult fantasy magazine /forum

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  • April 10, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    I am Agree with Judgement part but again this is very private thing should not discuss at such platform. Every person has its vision about life but religion is the ultimate way of living life. That’s why In Islam, marrieges in early age are encouraged. May Allah forgive us and bless us with Hidayat

  • April 27, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    There are few people in Pakistan who are ready to do anything for money, . these few people have no concept of honour and ghairat. so the lady in question and i doubt she is a lady, It is likely to be wicked man writing and spreading vulgarity. For money they tarnish the image of Pakistan and its women folk , famous for beauty and loyalty to their husbands. I pray to God that such people suffer for spreading and preaching falsehood.

  • October 25, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Excuse me? I am offended…. As a hypocrite you are not supposed to talk about these issues. A proper education for the general public may help, in the general common sense formation of a responsible society. The food choices have to be seen. The fertilisers that are utilised in crop production must be researched to see if there are any discrepancies. A healthy person does not have these issues.

  • November 1, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    A first in our family, a niece of mine had premarital sex and is the mother. Of course the reaction was of shock and horror amongst my elders. My generation took the news in a stride. There was no ‘live and let die’ attitude. A persons sex life is entirely personal and has nothing to do with anyone else A nephew of mine had a gay marriage – it his life and what he chooses to do with it, is entirely his business.

  • November 8, 2017 at 11:57 am

    The punishment announced by tribal jirgas for girls choosing to marry a man of her choice is to have her gang raped. Everyone gets a kick out watching a woman being treated like this. Completely forgetting the female perspective. A) She may want to fulfill one of her fantasies and announced she likes a man. She gets a satisfying treat of her life. B) After her gang rape she becomes outcast either she is jailed in her home or told to find a place for herself, thus escapes to settle to do as she pleases. Tribal chieftains are largely ignorant about female sexuality. A woman who is outcast becomes independent. She either becomes a beggar and make it a little more money offers sex for money, she is not a full time prostitute, her real income comes from her begging. A society becomes free when it acknowledges female sexuality, the health of women. Even in an extremely repressed society, women find a way to change considerably.

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