Kate Orne – May you never be uncovered
“Kate Orne has spent the past 9 years focused on equality issues in Pakistan. She is the only photographer to be allowed inside the brothels to document the prostitutes and their children, madams, pimps, and trafficking victims who are living stigmatized under Islam. Since 2005 she works actively with the local residents and supports their efforts to strengthen their community and build a safer future for their children. Kate Orne received the 2008 Berenice Abbott award for photography.”
Prostitution is forbidden under Islamic law, but with the increasing influence of extremist groups, the women risk severe punishment under Sharia law through beheadings and stoning to death. Recently two women suspected of prostitution were found beheaded with a message stating that “any women suspected of selling sexual favors will meet the same fate”.
Because these women are illiterate and prostitutes they have no opportunities. They and their children are shunned in society Mothers introduce their daughters to the sex trade – some with a gentle hand, and others by force. They pass on what they know.
Those afflicted with HIV/AIDS are stigmatized in Pakistan. The victims would rather hide their illness than risk being shunned by their families and the community. Despite awareness campaigns – in the end the use of condoms is left for the clients to decide.
Young women from rural villages and refugee camps are sold to the brothels by human-traffickers, while others are born into the trade.
The women practice modesty according to Islam. For a woman not to cover her chest with a hijab is considered daring – even among prostitutes. Rape and abuse are part of their daily life, madams and pimps will not provide any protection.