Heera Mandi – the abode of pleasure of yesterday – may be on its last legs, but the rapid development in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) has transformed the face of both the entertainment and sex trade across the globe and Pakistan is no exception.
An online study conducted by Pakistan Today reveals that the pervasiveness of the internet, email and mobile phone has not only enabled us to stay closer to each other, but these technologies have also introduced new business avenues. In this information age, one may not astonish if someone orders a meal or a high-tech gadget over the internet or SMS (short messaging service), but it must be surprising for most people if someone book an escort or call girl over the internet or SMS.
Research shows that there are dozens of Pakistani websites, forums and blogs available on the internet that are openly promoting flesh trade in the country. Most of these websites maintain photo galleries carrying call girls pictures along with price listings and a range of related services, which might be difficult to mention here in the national press.
Most websites claim they offer college students and working ladies for sex encounters, private dance parties or for girlfriend experience, while some sordid websites are marketing celebrities and fashion model.
Study reveals that though one could easily find these websites through search engines, the shrewd webmasters of these internet portals maintain a certain level of privacy to protect the identity of the prostitutes and their clients. Research shows that all transactions are being conducted on email and mobile phone without fear of prosecution.
Assuming he had landed a prospective client, an owner of one of these popular escort websites replied to an email send by this scribe in which a number of call girls picture, login credentials of a couple of photo galleries and a mobile number of one Mr Amir were forwarded. When contact on the phone, Amir refused to recognise the scribe by saying that he received hundreds of inquiries every day and it was virtually impossible for him to respond all emails.
However, when the scribe disclosed his email ID, he started offering various services and tired his level best to ensure maximum level of privacy. He claimed that his e-brothel offered call girls, escorts, private dancers and strippers according to the need of clients. He told the scribe that he needed couple of days to arrange the desired call girl or models.
He said that his internet brothel did not offer in call services, the girls were sent only in minimum three star hotels in the city and the client had to bear the lodging cost. He pointed out that he charge minimum Rs 20,000 for a professional call girl for a short stay of three to four hours, while for celebrities and fashion models prices were ranging from Rs 300,000 to Rs 800,000 for a short stay. In addition, he indicated that if one wanted to bring an escort to outstation or abroad he had to pay air fare and lodging cost.
Responding to a query, he mentioned that he avoided sending his girls to one popular five star hotel on The Mall in particular. However, he was happy to conduct business in other hotels on The Mall and M M Alam Road.
Answering another question, he emphasised that his agency provided medical certificates of call girls for clients’ satisfaction, as all females had to pass through a routine screening process to avoid any possibility of sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
Discussion with a senior official in the FIA’s National Response Centre for Cyber Crimes (NR3C) revealed that the law enforcement agencies in the country were incapable of dealing such e-crimes. On the condition of anonymity, an FIA official said, “A superpower like the US cannot stop cyber crimes, WikiLeaks is the most recent example, what do you expect from Pakistan?”
Telecom watchdog Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had a different viewpoint on how to tackle the menace stalking society. A PTA official said that content blocking on the internet was a very controversial option which rapidly gains worldwide notoriety. He stated that PTA had no authority to block any site on the internet without the permission of the federal government. However, the official stressed that the watchdog would be glad to block all such websites promoting sex trade in the country if the federal government grant explict permission.