- Hardcover: 402 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 22, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195794125
- ISBN-13: 978-0195794120
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,715,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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`the book breaks the myth propagated about prositutes in the society and presents the reality of their lives as they exist.' The News on Sunday, November 4 2001
`The study reads like a novel with real life details about conversations, hospitality. humour and temper, making for highly interesting reading.' Dr Tariq Rahman, Newsline, November 2001
`Fouzia Saeed's research was extremely difficult and risky ... But she persisted and finally came up with this unique piece of research.' Dr Tariq Rahman, Newsline, November 2001
`the latest scholarly work on this subject.' Dr Tariq Rahman, Newsline, November 2001
"Fouzia Saeed's work is original and extremely significant. It is one of those rare undertakings which a bold and enterprising researcher comes up with, once in decades." Dr Tariq Rahman, Newsline, November 2001
`It is a product of authentic, honest and unbiased research, narrated in the form of an ethnography, which is an important tool for taking one aspect of a society as a window into the larger system.' Star Weekend, November 3 2001
`to the eternal credit of the author, she has been able to resist the temptation of siting in judgment over anyone on account of morality or social pressure.' Star Weekend, November 3 2001
"Fouzia Saeed's book....is a product of authentic, honest and unbiased research, narrated in the form of an ethnography, which is an important tool for taking one aspect of a society as a window into the larger system." Humair Ishtiaq, Star Weekend, Saturday, November 3, 2001
"...an extremely gripping book, bristling with facts..." Amina Kamal Khan, The Nation Literary Supplement, October 2001
About the Author
Fouzia Saeed, with a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Minnesota, has spent the past twelve years in positions related to the task of engendering social change in Pakistan, with organizations like National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage, Aga Khan Foundation, and UNDP, Pakistan. She was a founder of the first private organization in Pakistan providing direct services to women in psychological crises, especially those related to rape and domestic violence.
Top customer reviews
Dr. Saeed's work has been the first definitive step towards sifting out the myth and creating a factual account of what life is all about in the Mohalla.
The inspiration for this research is totally relatable. In the opening chapter, Dr. Saeed touches upon the association of dance and music with prostitution in our society. In her own words, she talks about how she had to tackle with this association as an annoying obstacle to her desire to learn and master various classical and folk forms of dance. As a woman she had to face discouragement due to one of the most clichéd terms in our society- `achay ghar ke ladkian yay naheen karteen' (girls from good families do not indulge in such activities). This obstacle set her on a quest and she spent considerable effort in penetrating this uncharted domain of social sciences in Pakistan. The book is a result of this extensive research.
An interesting and integral characteristic of the book is its non-judgmental treatment of the people of the Mohalla. Dr. Saeed has worked on studying these people as individuals living in circumstances that are unique. She has interacted with these people not to find answers to whether they are good or evil or how they can be eradicated. Rather, she has focused on studying their life with an objectivity that is essential for any scientific work. This approach has resulted in her work being real and factual. It is neither sympathetic nor degrading towards the subject and thus free of any myths or perceptions. She has reported what she has seen and left it to the reader to form a judgment if they cannot live without one.
Reading through the book, amidst all the scientific objectivity, one does see traces of Dr. Saeed's background as a human rights activist. These traces always appear in the appropriate context and make the reading experience worthwhile. Leaning on her background, Dr Saeed asks some very valid questions in the book. Questions which go right to the core of how we as a society manage to live with our double standards. As an example of these questions and reflections, Dr Saeed asks why is it that a woman who is a prostitute is branded as an evil person while her customer is let go with a slight slap on the wrist (sometimes not even that!!!). She asks as to why traditionally, prostitutes are blamed for sexual misconducts in the society and not those who pay for their services. So, the book uses the case of the women in the Mohalla and manages to find parallels between women in the Mohalla and women anywhere else in the society. With this approach, Dr. Saeed points out the inherent exploitation of the `weaker' sex that prevails in our society.
After presenting her interactions and experiences with the people of the Mohalla, Dr. Saeed sums up her work in the last chapter. Here she sums up her entire work to reflect the immense social pressures that women face in our society. The setting is perfect and Dr Saeed plays a listener to a conversation between a `normal' girl and a girl from the Mohalla. Reading the conclusion in the words of two people who can be seen as characters in the story of the status of women in our society, proves to be a treat. All I can say is that I understood and agreed with each and every word of it. This discussion is presented as a session of self-realization where a young girl from the `normal' part of the society talks to a girl of the Mohalla and through their exchange of ideas they come to conclusions about their similarities and how they are part of a bigger system and have almost similar roles to play. This session is very enlightening and makes one think about how things are for the women in our country.
Overall, the book is a very interesting read and for those who are interested in learning about people and social issues that challenge us, it is a must-read. The book is also a source of enlightenment as it sheds light on the life of a group of people that has always been looked at from a safe distance. For all of us who wanted to know everything about the Mohalla and were afraid to ask, Dr. Saeed took the initiative and dedicated a considerable amount of her scientific work in researching and learning about these people. And not only that, in her reporting of the lives of these people, Dr. Saeed went on to ask some serious questions about the state of affairs for women in general.