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Tracking the sex workers along the roads of Lahore city and exploring the unsympathetic social behaviors in social GIS aspects

S. H. Moqaddus Kazmi
Subject Specialist, Punjab Government Education Department, Lahore
M.Sc Geography, GIS, Economic, Political Science, Ph.D Scholar(University of Education).

Sex is a bitter or sweet reality that cannot be overlooked and its legal efforts are the security for the survival of human being. Pakistan is announced as Islamic country and has a specific law that prohibits prostitution. Under the Suppression of Prostitution Ordinance 1961, running a brothel, enticing or leading a woman or a girl to prostitution and forcing a woman or a girl to have a sexual intercourse with any man are punishable crimes.( The Constitution of Pakistan-Chapter-2). But this law found only in the books and its violation is going on all over the Pakistan. In each and every city of Pakistan, we found the red area of sex workers near bus stand or railways stations. Before partition, royal families also visited these areas and these areas were also the pivot of Urdu literature and etiquettes and many sex workers also become fame in the field of poetry. (Montgomery 1860).The civilization and cultural impact on Lakhnao and Delhi Lahore have deep impact on these red areas. But these red areas are not also fulfill the sexual requirement but they also perform dance in wedding ceremonies and in Fairs which is part and parcel of sub-continent India. The renown poets of sub-continent also regularly visited these areas to recharge their emotions and institutions about their poetry.( Saeed, 1984). In july 16,1977, when General Zia ul Haq demolished the elected democratic government, he began to prolong his regime in the name of Islam. In this scenario, in the name of Islamic reforms he also ban the red areas of sex workers in all over the country. But this interdict spread all over the city areas and now this work has been alienated into different classes of sex workers from high class “call girl” to lower class sex workers.

The Lahore city which is rich cultured and historic city of multiple races has one of the sever problems of sex workers. It is mega city with a dense population of 7.5 million located at 74-20' E longitude to 31-34' N latitude.(GPS). There are about 3000 sex workers who are standing along the road side, some step forward or backward from the any bus stop with showy dress and masking face with third class costumes and perfume giving alluring looks. They usually appear after sunset and disappears or picked up by different category of clients after 11 O clock. There are very rare chances are to find any sex workers after midnight. Though these road side sex workers are available 24 hours on the road but the peak timing of these workers started from sunset. In some cases sex workers also play a lucrative role for corrupt police personals to trap the client and fleece a mass amount of money in the name of Islamic “Hadood Laws” which has a severe punishment like stone to death. About 5% of these sex workers are eunuchs and 8% are boy who indulge in sex entertainment.

The research on sex workers is being done by many scholars but mostly they confine there precious work on only red areas of the Lahore city. Many NGO with collaboration on international donors like UNICEF, Action Aid, HIV/AIDS Agencies are also working on prominent areas for their health education and environment. The road side sex workers are pointed out time to time in news papers but this only depict as a sever evil that is collapsing the Islamic ethics and society but such feature did not explore the bitterness of ground reality.

The Problem
Exploring the status of road side sex worker and unsympathetic attitude of common people against them. To investigate the push and pull factors that forced them to stand for sex entertainment in nominal wages.

The objective of the research were as follows:
  • Tacking and marks the most probable location of sex workers on the road of Lahore city with GIS tools like GPS.
  • Revealing the family background and family size of the sex workers including dependent and independent family members.
  • Finding the fascinating factors that pull sex worker on the road.
  • To make a proximity analysis to find the distance between the location of job and the home where they dwell.
  • Seek out the root causes of this problem and find out the psychosocial and geographic factors by spatial social GIS analysis.
In this research method many research tools were used. The main research tools were questionnaire and interview with sex workers and some of their clients. GIS tools were also use like GPS receiver to mark the sex workers and then all collected data was transferred on digital map of Lahore city to make spatial social and proximity analysis. (Kennedy, 2000). Then all this data was analyzed to reveal the root causes and ground reality that reinforce sex worker to come on the road. The Population of this research were sex workers and sample was selected randomly from roadside sex workers as has been described earlier. No doubt it was a difficult task and it take one and half year to accomplish this research work. Total 280 respondent were investigated excluding clientage of the these sex workers. The delimitation of the study is the Hippocratic nature and behavior of common people.

Tacking the Sex workers on Road
Roadside sex workers are available almost from 7 a.m to maximum 12 p.m in summer and 8 a.m to 11 p.m in winter season. where these sex workers are available almost in all roads but the most prominent roads are Mall road, Wahdat road, canal road, Ferozpur road, Multan road, Circular Road and jail road where the business of sex workers are at the peak from 7 pm to midnight. These sex workers are standing near bus stops or those locations where they can be distinguished easily from other commuters. They usually trapping the sex hunters by waving their eyes. They trap the persons according to their status and age. Their clientage include all type of men pertaining to different type of professions like labours, students, businessmen, caretakers, according to their pocket. They take decision in a short time to reject or select a person. If a client is pedestrian then auto rickshaw driver also came near to them to get double fair. The experience sex workers usually select those clients who have cars or at least motor bike. The rate is fixed in according to time and number of persons. In our sample only 5% sex workers offer abode also. Otherwise it is responsibility of client to arrange a place that may be a flat in a plaza, hotel or any vacant house of that client. The rate is negotiable and it can be trusted or mistrusted by number of persons who are not narrated at the spot. Usually students do not give the exact figure of clients. But the person above 30 have nice behaviour with sex workers. Police and other security personnel have also link these sex workers who also hunt the client with the help of these sex workers and then empty the pocket of client in the name of Islamic law. Among these sex workers, 65 % respondent usually worried about police behaviour that if the they captured by the police then they will be brutally raped freely and without any wages by whole police station at any time of the week or days. Such victims in roadside or call girl type sex workers at once change their location to get rid of these “Guards of Law”. The average earning of an average age woman is 20 to 50 US$/day. Teenagers and upto 30 years old sex workers have higher rates while above 30 years old sex workers attain 5 to 20US $/day depending upon their body physic and fitness. The most old women become supplier of young sex workers and get commission usually with half percentage.

Figure 1 Family Bacground and Marital Status of Sex workers

Most of the sex workers belong to lower middle and lower class. They live below the poverty line. At least 45 million people out of the country's 140 million population live in abject poverty.(Ministry of Finance, 2003) Average family size of sex workers is 5-7 family members. 45 % among married sex workers claim that their husband is unemployed and 21 % say that their husband is drug eddicted and the remaining 24 % say that their husband is a labour and has no permanent job that do not meet the family expenses. The sex workers who claim that they are still unmarried, 88 % do this job due to large family size and dependent. 37% of unmarried sex workers do this job as a part time. They work in different private organizations, factories, restaurants, or shops like beauty parlors, boutiques, departmental stores family clinics, maternity centres, marriage bureaus, guest houses and after the end of job timing they also pick the client to raise their funds. Divorced and separated sex workers also active in this field. The cover of this type of job also provide married women also.

If we observed the education level of these sex workers mostly, they are illiterate or having education upto elementary level. Only 3% have graduate level of education. Only one out of total respondent has a master level degree. The illiterate and primary level of education of these sex workers is high as 24% and 35% respectively. Mostly the part time roadside sex workers have upto higher secondary level of education.

Pull and Push Factors of Roadside Sex workers
There are many pull and push factors that forced sex workers to stand on the road. According to International Human Rights Monitoring (IHRM) group, As many as 44 percent women resort to the sex trade due to poverty, 32 percent by deception, 18 percent due to coercing, 4 percent due to surroundings (born to sex workers) and only 2 percent are involved in the sex trade at their own will. But these facts depict roughly all type of sex workers. The road side sex workers have some different. Now doubt poverty is a major factor but other factors cannot be neglected. All the sex workers who start their business can not take risk to start from their own Muhallah(zone like Union Council) or neighboring street or superb. Because they live in lower middle class areas where all neighbors are very concerned to each other. Women as well as men particularly old age gender are in search of suspicious and thrilling stories. May be we find only few men in any union council that can be declared innocent or abstinent but we are so hypocrite about reality that when ever we find any sex workers in our neighbor, all the people protest against them in the name of honour , filthy environment. So the sex workers have to evacuate their homes that is usually taken on rent. Then they can only live their under the auspice of Police. Otherwise they have to go from their. If the sex workers give monthly(A type of bribery that is given to the police to save the whore’s residence). This observation can be seen on posh areas of Lahore city where elite class live and has no concern about the work type of their neighbors. But, road side sex workers do not want to reveal themselves as a prostitution and show as a factory workers or any type of related job where night sift usually come to work. So, including poverty, the common people’s unsympathetic and hatred behaviour push them to come on the road. There is also supplier called in local language “Naika” or “Dalal”( pimps) who take orders and send sex workers to their clients. But they charge half or some times 60 percent of total amount fixed for entertainment. So, the sex workers feel unease and try to get rid of such pimps and Naikas to get full money. So they themselves pull towards the road to hunt client on their own efforts. Some time one friend has become a sex workers then she persuade their friends to come on roads to earn some money with enjoyment also. Most of the unmarried sex workers do not want to register themselves to the pimps or Naikas because they want to remain concealed so they avoid them and push towards road.

Proximity Analysis of Sex Workers
Proximity is a measure of the distance between features. It is most commonly measured in units of length but can be measured in other units such as travel time or noise level.( Aronoff,1995.But here we will investigate the traveling distance from the dwelling of a sex workers to road and then to client abode. A road side sex worker travel an average distance away from home to road an average of 5 to 15 kilometer and then almost same distance from road to client abode. This traveling becomes at least 20 to maximum 60 kilometer to return safe at home within the city. Here both client and sex workers covered the same distance to conceal his type of work from their friends and relatives. A sex hunter is also pick the sex worker away from his home or known places and also sex worker prefer the same mode of business. In this way both client and sex host save their so-called honour. When ever the sex workers are exposed as a prostitution, they have to leave the area. So, they do not live more than a year in fixed place due to leakage of their kind of profession. They also change their residence due to remain hide from police also. Therefore, about 92 % of total respondents live on rent bases home.

Figure 2 The Distance Covered by a Sex Worker

Figure 3 Psycho-social and geographic aspects

Psychosocial and Geographic Aspects
Why a sex worker is forced to sell her body for earning? In more developed countries this has become an organized industry and hundred thousands of websites are available for cyber sex, porno, matching, dates etc. But in a third world country like Pakistan has some other values and demands of society. It is believed the most grimy hatred and a grievous sin in the society. It is not considered as a type of work but a condemned crime that is culpable, stone to death. It is not a luxurious entertainment at all but it is done just to carry the basic needs of the sex workers and their family. There is no honour of lower cast in Pakistan. The women of the lower cast usually sexually abused and the poor workers have no any power even to report the police. If media raise any rape report, then sometime the action is taken but due to flaws in jurisdiction System of Pakistan neutralize the sex about cases to release the debauched persons. It is also seen that the influential personalities threat the victims and the case is dismissed or taken back. So the domestic workers mostly raped by the elders of the houses. Due to lack of Law implementation and social difference and discriminations most of the low cast girls are raped by the neighbors. Electronic media also fascinate the world of glamour and a girl eloped with prince of their heart and then soled to pimp who further use them for their own earnings. In this stage, the woman can not go again at home because the parents never except them again and tried to hide this incident. The male remain innocent and there is not practical law that can hurt him.( Rauf, 1988). If such case is noticed by the police then the FIR is written in such a way that the female side is proved culprit and sentenced to jail. In Pakistani Jail even rape case is adversely victimized the women and the culpable proved blameless again. Once a women is blamed as prostitution of raped then she will not able to get dignity in the society. She always become suspicious and hatred. In these circumstances it is very difficult for her to escape from her profession. The higher class sex workers have affiliation with organized groups of pimps who have special perch in posh areas in collaboration of local police station. Now, a new trend is also coming to very cheap acquisition of cellular phone. It also enhance the sex worker activities. There is no any kind of security registration for these sex workers. Higher class sex workers have very less problems because they have relationship with highly influential personalities. But the roadside sex workers are help less in all cases. Even if they murdered, no one will peruse their case due to blemish risk of illegal relationship to her. There is no rule and regulation or NGO’s working for these sex workers. They have strive for their own survival in the most risky environment. 34 % among total respondents admit that their parents or family knows their kind of profession.

Hidden Threats
Although in our sampling only 8 sex workers out of 280 admit that they suffer one two time from hepatitis and the remaining strongly acknowledge any type of disease they have. But their pale and withering faces in highly masking of cheap cosmetics depicting an other story of hidden dangerous reality. Only 3% forced their clients to use condom and only 0.5% client use condom or take any other precautionary measures. There is no restriction of client or sex worker in their activities. Some sex workers reveal that some of their co-workers died due to unknown disease. 68% of sex workers are familiar with the name of AIDS/HIV. But 72% among these do no give importance to this disease because their basic need is to earn some money to run the expenses of the their family for the current day without any saving. Officially it is announced only 246 people, 215 men and 31 women, found to have contracted AIDS in Pakistan.(GOP, Ministry of Heath 2004) but they also explore that are more than 90,000 unregistered HIV and AIDS patients in Pakistan.

On the other hand, an exposition of National AIDS Control Programme National report there are currently 235 registered cases of HIV and 1,785 reported cases of AIDS in Pakistan. Government officials claim 70,000 to 80,0000 unregistered HIV and AIDS patients live in the country. Though no one can make authentic claims about the number of unregistered AIDS patients in Pakistan, they have some indications that there has been an increase in the recent past. Pakistan has a narrow window of opportunity to prevent a generalized HIV/AIDS epidemic. While the HIV/AIDS burden is still low. However, Pakistan’s many competing needs (including provision of basic social services and debt servicing and drug control expenditures) have made resource mobilization for HIV/AIDS difficult.(UNAID)

What is role of roadside sex workers in spreading HIV in the Lahore city, it is quite difficult to probe the ground realities. But it can be assumed a dormant time bomb of HIV that can explode at any time to demolish and effect the a huge population. If a person got HIV Positive, he is treated a curse of God and sever hate him/her and even to touch him/her. The people think that an HIV positive person got this disease due to illegal relationship with other human. They don’t bother to know the reality and other causes of this disease. So if a person found a disease in him, he never share his disease to his family or relative or friends due to enmity reaction from them. In this way, a person embrace death very shortly due to agonizing mental torture by carrying this disease. There are many scheme like “Nizam –e-Zakat” an official department to distribute a fix amount to destitute like old ,divorced, poor students, needy families but this amount is so small that no one can live with this amount in an honorable way. So, these sex workers have to take support of fornication business.

No doubt, adultery business in a society like Pakistan is very condemned activity but we cannot close over eyes from the ground realities. Our hypocritical and hatred behavior against the deprived and forced sex workers never let them adjust or mix up in the society. Poverty and male dominant society, pull the women to sell their body not for enjoyment but to earn for her and their family. Even employed in different organization and shops do this job part time. The discrimination in society on the basis of cast and class, also make a push factors for women to adopt this filthy profession. The cause of unemployment and insecure future and continuously increasing inflation rate and surge of basic need also add the factors to adopt this kind of job. The roads of city are full of this depressed class of sex workers who are deliberately ignored the facts that are deteriorating moral values of society. Also, unfriendly behaviour of common people against sex workers and HIV patients is add an explosive spread of this disease. One of the most risk still stand in roadside sex workers due to not giving them importance by different welfare organizations. Hence, they are the most easy carrier of different diseases including hepatitis AIDS/HIV, and other epidemic diseases. Once a sex worker is declared as a prostitute, then they never be able to mix up as an honored women in the society. No one marry with her and no will like to help her. Even jurisdiction system do no favour her and she have to remain in this heap of rubbish zone. Although, roadside sex workers do very precautionary measures and cover a long distance to hide themselves from their known person but even then they exposed and then have to change their dwellings. If a law is forced to eliminate any evil in the society, then it is exploited by the law enforcing agencies and a new door is open for more corruption.

  • Need for change in Hadood Ordinance and promulgation of strict laws for adultery and rape equally treated to the gender
  • The awareness about epidemics like Hepatitis and AIDS/HIV should be familiarize upto lower class.
  • Strive for the friendly behaviour for the AIDS/HIV patients.
  • Roadside workers should be helped like destitute and NGO’s should also take a step to enhance their living standard and earning to progress home industry.
  • Use of condom and other precautionary measures should be forced to adopt by road sex workers with the help of female volunteers of NGO’s in a very friendly environment.
  • Roadside sex workers should also be treated like drug addicted and seeking the way to eliminate this evil.
  • The system of “Zakat” should be organized in such a way, that every needy person meet their at least basic needs. But they should not given the fixed money only but according to the family size and dependents. At government level many technical institute can be established to make these sex workers, valuable citizen of the country.
  • The religious scholar can play a positive role for those sex workers who are single or divorced to arrange marriage for them.
  • The law enforcement agencies should be vary careful to discriminate between sex workers and victim. The sex workers should be pursued for any alternative practical jobs.
  • Focus the problem from its root level and endeavor to settle it amicably.
  • A model work for rehabilitation of roadside sexd workers Equioed with GIS tools should be implemented in a small area of sex workers population thatcan be applied to other region of country.
  • Aronoff, S., (1995), “Geographic Information System” Ottawa,WDL publications. pp.223-225).
  • Government of Pakistan, 2003, “Economic Survey of Pakistan 2003”, Islamabad, Ministry of Finance. ch. 4- pp 1-14.
  • International Human Rights Monitoring Pakistan.
  • Kennedy, Micheal (2000), “The Global Positioning System and GIS”, Michigan, Ann Arbor Press. pp.228-230.
  • Montgomery, Robnert. (1860), “Ancient Lahore” Lahore, Gautam publishers. Pp-51. pp 77-92.
  • Rauf, Abdur, (1988), “Islamic Culture of Pakistan”, Lahore, Feroze Sons.
  • Saeed, Muhammad, (1984), “ Lahore, A Memoir”, Lahore, Vanguard Books Ltd., pp 256-260.
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