Coming from a country that is in essence, an Islamic State, we have grown up, sub-consciously realizing that some topics are taboo, and cannot be discussed that widely at all. Unfortunately, this has left an information gap in the minds of the youth, and has consequently led to bigger problems for the society as a whole. Prostitution is one of those taboo topics.
Prostitution is regarded as one of the oldest professions of this world, and various forms of this have developed drastically over the centuries. Starting off as a religious offering for temple deities, it is now, however, merely a sex trade. Lahore is home to the very famous, and possibly the oldest flesh market, Heera Mandi, or more specifically, Shahi Mohallah in the Walled City, which is the hub of all such activities.
Prior to the Indian Mutiny, a very different form of the current profession was in play, and was considered a very respectable job, limited to the art of dance, and entertainment, in the form of classical dance. In the famous brothels of Lucknow, landlords used to send their sons when they came of age, to live in these brothels and learn social conduct, and the art of conversation from these courtesans. This way of life deteriorated rapidly after Partition, as poverty put all life at a standstill. There were no houses available for migrating families on either side of the border, and no jobs either, hence, families had to resort desperate measures to get food on the table, and this usually involved the girls of those families selling their bodies for money.
It has been decades now, and this problem still goes on. Girls born into this sex trade start their lives by hearing the sounds of the ghungroo and the tablas, but later on in life, take up the old ways again to earn a livelihood. There have been no government actions to limit this sex trade, and consequently, trafficking of young girls, is a major issue that we are plagued with today, and it has branched off from prostitution. What is worse is the increase in the number of sexually transmitted diseases. To this date, this has been an unaddressed issue in our society. Every day, hundreds of girls join the profession, but there is nobody there to guide them.
To regulate this, the Government needs to take action; the most feasible option being the legalization of the trade, as it would help in preventing child sex, trafficking, and abuse on the sex workers. It would furthermore decrease the spread of STD’s like AIDS, syphilis, etc.
Unfortunately, in Pakistan, legalization is out of question, as prostitution is a fundamentally un-Islamic concept. Over the decades, the Government has conveniently and purposely overlooked the sex trade, as they have no other option, because it is very deep rooted in our culture, and has reached a point where it cannot be eradicated, a very long time ago, and has rather spread out into male prostitution as well. The least the authorities can do is give sanctions, especially for medical check-ups, and most importantly, promote the use of contraceptives.
Being born with a feudal mindset, we fail to recognize the fact that these women are human beings, who may have suffered a serious setback in their lives, to reach a point that they begin to sell their bodies, just so they can get enough food to last them a week. These women have not only lost the sanctity of their bodies, but the integrity of their souls as well. We, as a society, need to take action for the sake of humanity, to help and understand the sad dispositions of our fellow human beings.