.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pakistan "dancing girls" victimized twice

This story in Al Arabiya is disgusting on two levels, one from what it says and one for what it does not. It starts off this way:
Clad in a low-cut dress and heavily made-up, 16-year-old dancing girl Shabnam used to spend her nights twirling gracefully for locals and tourists in Pakistan's Swat Valley.

Bejewelled dancers of Swat, famous for its beautiful, pale-skinned women, would beguile at house parties, stag nights and hotels, and Shabnam was just 12 when she followed her mother and sisters into the sometimes steamy profession.

But then Taliban fighters infiltrated the valley and her hometown Mingora. Terror forced Shabnam to flee and although some displaced civilians are returning to areas around Swat, she says she is too scared to go home.

"I don't think the situation will return to normality. The Taliban have terrified not only us dancing girls but the entire population in Swat. I think the Taliban can return any time," she said.
This article is clearly oriented against the Taliban and their religious zeal, and for the first six paragraphs the girls are described merely as "dancers," perhaps baring a little more skin than one would see in the streets but nothing else.

However, they were forced to do a bit more than just dance:
Such entertainment forms were branded un-Islamic and retribution was harsh, particularly as they are frequently associated with prostitution.

"If I dance at a party for a whole night, then do you think they will let me go without sex?" said Shabnam.

"It depends on the people, the place and the community where I perform. Sometimes I had sex with four to five people," she replied.

She left Swat after her cousin was killed.

"My cousin Shabana was the most beautiful and popular dancer of Swat. She was murdered in Mingora city's Green Square," she said. "She was shot dead."
Now look at the beginning of the article - Shabham was forced into prostitution by her own mother when she was 12!

English-language Al-Arabiya does not think this is strange or noteworthy; apparently this is just par for the course.

So Pakistani girls are victimized not only by the Islamic extremists of the Taliban but also by their own families and a culture that utterly demeans them as a matter of course.