The Dancing Girls of Lahore: Selling Love and Saving Dreams in Pakistan’s Pleasure District – Louise Brown

The Dancing Girls of Lahore: Selling Love and Saving Dreams in Pakistan's Pleasure District

A beautifully scripted heart wrenching saga on the turbulent life of Maha( a veteran in sex trade) in the illustrious red light area of Heera Mandi /Diamond Market in Lahore, Pakistan.

Heera Mandi once famous for its artistic aura of courtesans known purely for their dancing and singing skills has now been reduced to a commercial sex factory. A similar fate experienced by the courtesans of Lucknow (India) and the Geishas of Japan.

Brown’s protagonist Maha who is at the dusk of her career (prostitution was looked as a profession), fights the dilemmas of her burdensome life encompassing struggles from being the sole breadwinner to being a mother to five children. Her family is yet to find the respect privileged to the so called civil world. In her prime, Maha was sold to a wealthy Arab in Dubai at the age of 12. A few years later she donned the role of a mistress to a wealthy Pakistani man. As years passed by, she was disowned by her wealthy benefactor compelling Maha to live on the charity of an opium addicted businessman. Moreover, her daughter’s incidental attraction to her world worsens her dilemmas.

Maha’s story does not have a happy ending. It is not a fairytale but a reality that overwhelms many lives of young innocent victims of sex-trade. Brown’s characterization of Maha is an eye opener which exposes the dark underbelly of a civilized society. Maha is one the countless blameless outcasts of a situation created by lecherous sexual elements.

4/5****

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