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Meeting Pakistani prostitutes

Maria

Most of the girls are forced into prostitution

Kaneez Fatima’s story is typical of how young women end up in the business of prostitution in Pakistan.

Although they are legally outlawed, the number of sex workers in the country has increased over the past few years.

Growing unemployment and inflation and the resulting rise in poverty have led many down this road.

Increasingly, young women across the country are putting their bodies up for sale in the “flesh markets”.

The daughter of a poor rural farmer from the Punjab province’s sub-district of Chiniot, Kaneez Fatima’s only advantage was that she was able to complete her school education.

Still in her teens, she was married off as is normally the case in Pakistan’s rural heartland.

“Initially it worked fine, but then my husband went out of work,” she told BBC Urdu.

“I had two small children to support, and started to work as a maid.”

‘Rapid progress’

Kaneez Fatima says the place where she started work was actually a brothel.

“The people there convinced me to join the profession. The money was better than anything I could find and I was desperate.”

There has been no looking back after that, she says.

“I started out as one of the girls working out of the dera [or den, as a brothel is called by locals].”

The girls, as she calls them, work out of it and are handled by a man or more often a woman known simply as “aunty”.

I don’t want to be here… I have dreams about getting married and having children, but I have no choice”
Nida, sex worker

Kaneez says she made rapid progress through the ranks due to her education.

“My first dera was in Mandi Bahauddin [a town in central Punjab], where they made me in-charge soon after I joined.”

She says that she kept her profession a secret from her family, but her husband managed to find out.

“He called me to the village and then tried to shoot me.”

She escaped with a bullet wound to her leg and never went back.

“I changed my name and moved to Lahore portraying myself as a model.”

She has continued in the business and has now graduated to supplying girls to brothels all over Punjab.

“I get a commission ranging from an average of 5,000 to 10,000 rupees ($60 to $120) per girl. The price varies according to age and beauty.”

Kaneez says she also has to guarantee that the girls will not run away.

“While most are forced into the profession due to poverty, there are some who join voluntarily because they can make more money than in a ‘normal’ trade.”

According to her, the normal rate for a girl for two to three hours ranges between 1,000 and 1,500 rupees ($12 to $18).

“Of course if a client wants to spend the entire night then the rate rises exponentially, depending on the girl’s age and looks.”

The girls only get a fraction of this money as most of it goes to the aunty, she says.

Rising numbers

“The girl will get 300 rupees ($4) if she spends a few hours, and up to 2,000 rupees ($24) for the entire night.”

Kaneez says the number of girls is rising by the day, and they are often brought in by relatives such as fathers, mothers, brother and even husbands.

“Some of the girls are so young that my heart refuses to agree, but what can one do?”

Nida is a pretty and innocent looking young woman of about 20 and has been a prostitute for six years.

Nadia

The number of sex workers is constantly growing in Pakistan

“My first time was when I was 14 years old and I was brought here by my mother as she had to pay off a loan of 10,000 rupees.

“I did not even know what to do at the time.”

Nida says that she has continued in the trade as her entire family is now dependent on her for their day-to-day survival.

“I don’t want to be here… I have dreams about getting married and having children, but I have no choice.”

She says she would leave the trade immediately if the government or some social organisation could ensure food, clothing and shelter for her parents and siblings.

Maria, on the other hand, is very much in the business out of choice.

“My husband was good for nothing, and I wanted my children to get the best of everything,” she says.

Maria says she has worked all over northern Pakistan, specially in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

She says her best days were in Islamabad where she was able to make up to 100,000 rupees ($1,200) a month plus tips.

“The people were always well behaved and did not mistreat me. The clients never identified themselves, but I could tell some were powerful and important men.

“Quite a few of them were Westerners as well.”

Maria says she eventually left because of the rising attacks on hotels, which were her main operating places.

“I am in Lahore now, and while things are not as lucrative, at least there is more security.”

Maria, however, is one of the luckier ones.

Kaneez Fatima says that there are so many horror stories in the profession that she could relate them for hours.

“The most common cases are where a client makes a perverse or strange demand and the girl refuses. They either beat her black and blue, or just kill her and tell us she has run away.

“After all, who cares for another dead prostitute?”

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WASHINGTON – The FBI has rescued 48 suspected teenage prostitutes, some as young as 13 years old, in a nationwide sweep to remove kids from the illegal sex trade and punish their accused pimps.

0e235248c06094f2Over a three-night initiative called Operation Cross Country, federal agents working with local law enforcement also arrested more than 571 suspects on a variety of federal and state prostitution-related charges, the bureau said.

The teenage prostitutes found in the investigation ranged in age from 13 to 17.

“We may not be able to return their innocence but we can remove them from this cycle of abuse and violence,” said FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Meanwhile, in Memphis, Tenn., a man pleaded guilty Monday to federalc2691c401b2d5d44 civil rights charges for sex trafficking in minors. Leonard Fox faces at least 10 years in prison after admitting that he arranged for underaged girls to engage in sex for money.

“To sexually prey upon young girls in this manner for financial gain is particularly damaging to the victims and an affront to the society in which we live,” said Loretta King, acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

sex-underageHistorically, federal authorities rarely play a role in anti-prostitution crackdowns, but the FBI is becoming more involved as it tries to rescue children caught up in the business.

“The goal is to recover kids. We consider them the child victims of prostitution,” said FBI Deputy Assistant Director Daniel Roberts.

“Unfortunately, the vast majority of these kids are what they term ‘throwaway kids,’ with no family support, no friends. They’re kids that nobody wants, they’re loners. Many are runaways,” Roberts said.

Most of the children are put into the custody of local child protection36536f0d9dd6ca501 agencies.

Agents in cities from Miami to Chicago to Anchorage, Alaska took part in the operation.

Special Agent Melissa Morrow of the FBI’s Washington office said the operation has put them on the trail of a particular 16-year-old prostitute they still haven’t found.

Adult prostitutes arrested during the operation provided key tips about the girl, the agent said.

981c05ea4f0429ec“She is currently 16 and started when she was 13. Now she is out there recruiting other juveniles as well,” said Morrow, adding that finding the girl is “at the top of our list.”

The federal effort is also designed to hit pimps with much tougher prison sentences than they would likely get in state criminal courts.

Government prosecutors look to bring racketeering charges or conspiracy charges that can result in decades of jail time.

“Some of these networks of pimps and their organizations are very 6787b3b571959d36sophisticated, they’re interstate,” said Roberts, requiring wiretaps and undercover sting operations to bring charges.

The weekend’s roundup marked the third such Operation Cross Country, and is part of a broader federal program launched in 2003 to crack down on the sexual exploitation of children.

Source: AP