By Tariq Janjua
This article was originally posted on PotDrum
Prostitution in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is illegal, and consequences are severe. However, posh areas of Karachi are red light districts where escorts range from LGBTQ to females of all ages. Law enforcers support and at times their ignorance flourishes the sex business in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the oldest trade in the world has viciously gripped girls as little as nine that are secretly sold for sex. Some say that even younger than nine are being trafficked into this heinous crime. In the country, many are forced into prostitution except one class that does it to manage or create a luxurious lifestyle.
In this illicit trade, the youngest are the most expensive. The average price of sexual service providers that are readily available on the streets of Clifton and Defence is around Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 5,000 lower than a meal for two at certain high-end restaurants.
Badar commercial and parts of Defence Phase II commercial also operate brothels that pay off local police to keep their illegal business running. Surprisingly, those who are too scared to go to the whorehouse often end up picking prostitutes from the streets. These are mostly transgenders that hop on luxurious four wheelers for sexual encounters. With the influx of influential landlords and their families from parts of Sindh and Balochistan, this business has taken a steep rise. Every weekend several houses in the Defence neighbourhood are decorated for Mujrah or high-end dance parties. All featuring expensive prostitutes that may take up to over Rs. 100,000.
Since the war in the Waziristan area of Pakistan, many girls have been kidnapped and sold for sex in the major cities like Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. Punjab has the highest rate of prostitution where girls are being trafficked from abroad under the endorsement of today’s sitting MNAs and MPAs.
On my visit to Lahore last year I met up with some of the locals, asking them about how prostitution has shifted from Heera Mandi to posh areas like Defence, Model Town, and the Cantt area. Since the crackdown of Punjab government on Heera Mandi activities have declined significantly but not completely halted. Nevertheless, this business has found new avenues to prosper and now people directly invite them to their house with couple of friends or close ones enjoying alcohol with dancing. Also, sex is not out of the equation it all depends on one’s pocket. The prostitutes today have managers and not pimps like in the past. These girls demand a status equal to “Entertainers” and their pimps to “Managers”. But unfortunately, the majority of the sex workers in Pakistan are forced by mafias or the biggest evil of all poverty.
In Pakistan, sexual relations between two consenting adults was not a crime until 1979. The law only prohibited the involvement of minors in prostitution. Later Zia Ul Haq introduced the Zina Ordinance that made any kind of extramarital sex a criminal offence.
Pakistan is not a closed society as the West perceives. The people are open-minded and progressive. However, the community is sadly surrounded by various mafias and gangs that operate all sorts of illegal business in the country. They act with immunity because the ring leaders or partners in crime are influential rulers, politicians and army personnel.