City’s porn hub still going strong
By Amar Guriro
KARACHI: The setting could be described as the opening scene from a Paulo Coelho novel where the sun has just started setting behind the tower of Victorian era’s Empress Market, as the old driver ignores the hubbub of the long queues of public buses. The fruit and vegetable vendors sit idly on their pushcarts as if tired after a daylong struggle to attract customers.
As this scribe observed his surroundings, he discerned a middle-aged man moving from the main road towards a multi-storey building known as Rainbow Centre, claimed to be Asia’s biggest centre selling CDs and DVDs of films, software, games, sports and documentaries. Most shops at the centre are decorated with different-sized posters carrying pictures of Indian actors.
The man stopped at a shop and started looking at the poster, while some shopkeepers approached him to ask what he was looking for, to which the man replied that he was looking for a new film. When asked in which language he wanted to buy the film, he responded that he would like to buy an English film dubbed into the Urdu language. The shopkeeper pointed at a heap of CDs and DVDs.
After exploring the media for a few minutes, he approached the shopkeeper and shyly asked for a DVD of Punjabi mujra and to his utter surprise, the shopkeeper handed him a few DVDs with a bland expression on his face. Taking courage from the shopkeeper’s attitude, he then asked for a pornographic film and within no time, the shopkeeper bent down and took out a carton, untied the thin rope around it and put all the objectionable CDs and DVDs on display for the potential customer to look through.
While the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) monitors television for documentaries on reproductive health, the fact that even a child can buy objectionable media for Rs 30 goes unnoticed.
In this city, where finding safe blood for a patient is a difficult task, finding pornographic films is as easy as buying an apple from a fruit vendor.
Although Rainbow Centre in Saddar is famous for pirated and pornographic films, roadside stalls and pushcart vendors also sell objectionable CDs and DVDs including mujras and pornographic films from Pakistan to China to the USA.
One can also find such pushcart vendors near the Uni Plaza on the country’s Wall Street, II Chundrigar Road, where they seemingly go unnoticed by the authorities.
A shopkeeper of the Rainbow Centre told this scribe that around 2 million discs are sold every day, around 0.4 million (20 percent) of which are pornographic films.
After the revolution of Internet in the country, most youngsters have started watching porn online, but despite that the CDs and DVDs business is on the rise in the city because, according to a shopkeeper, slow network speeds prevent teenagers from watching porn online and many of the older generation do not even use computers.
Another shopkeeper justified the sale of porn, saying that in the conservative Pakistani society, men and women are not even allowed to sit together in public places and there are no dating spots or dancing clubs; therefore, most teenagers and even older citizens find pornography as the best entertainment.