Visitors to Nazimabad Number 2 (‘Doh Number’) know the area for numerous reasons. One may be for the spicy food items that are available here while another is the number of shops that sell fine quality handmade shoes.
However, the area is also known amongst pedophiles for its shops where boys of ages as young as nine are ‘available’ for charges as low as Rs150 for a ‘session’.
At the well-known bus stop 2-K in Nazimabad No 2, amidst the shoe and food shops, there is a street located next to a famous restaurant. It is on this street that the cabins ‘offering’ boys are located. Given the popularity of these shop cabins, their mushrooming has now expanded outside this street. Some are now even located near Gole Market, a famous city bazaar.
Unknown to unsuspecting visitors to the area, these shops are located within video stores.
The ground floor is the video shop while on the first floor, in small dingy cabins, business of another kind takes place.
Each of these shops may have five to six small cabins. These cabins are hardly eight feet long and five feet wide and are separated by thin hardboard walls.
This correspondent was taken to one of these shops by a teenager, Tauqeer (not his real name). Tauqeer confessed that he himself was a sex worker.
From the street, nothing gives away the dark trade that is plied within these shops. There is the hustle and bustle of a usual Karachi bazaar. This activity continues till as late as 9 p.m. It was around this time that The News visited the area.
While entering the street, it seems all is well; nothing illegal or horrible is taking place. Like other parts of Nazimabad, multi-storeyed buildings also exist here. But a few turns and the shops of shame appear.
Tauqeer informed The News that a majority of the children accompany their clients to this street once they have reached a deal. Most clients travel into this area by public transport as they do not want to run the risk of giving themselves away by bringing their private cars.
“We always prefer to travel through public transport instead of private vehicles. In public transport we feel ourselves secure,” Tauqeer informs.
Thirteen-year-old Tauqeer is a smart and confident young man. His appearance does not give away his troubled past and the dark secret of what he does to make a living.
The first den is situated about 30 metres away from the main road. Tauqeer says that the owner of the shop is a good friend of his. “As soon as he sees me, he understands that I am with a client. The owner then charges the client and not me.” Other such shops are scattered around the area.
Interestingly, these houses are run in the daytime. “We always look for our clients in the day. I personally prefer to do my business in the daylight,” comments the ever-confident Tauqeer.
Tauqeer and one of his friends inform The News in detail of how and where this business is managed. “My parents originally belonged to Punjab. However they moved to Karachi for economic reasons,” he says.
Tauqeer went to school for a while but soon developed a habit of running away from home. In the beginning, he started selling tissue papers at Sea View and earned Rs100 to Rs120 daily.
However, two years ago, one of his friends, Naveed (not his real name) asked him to visit Jahangir Park, near the Pedestrian Bridge, (which does not exist now), “to earn more money.”
According to Tauqeer, the world of the Pedestrian Bridge “was altogether a different world.” This was the meeting point for male child prostitutes and their clients.
According to Tauqeer, more than 300 children are engaged in this area alone. “There are two categories of children involved. A majority are street children who earn their livelihood through this mean. Then there are kids who belong to poor families and visit the bridge to earn some extra money,” he says.
Such children mostly come from localities such as Akhtar Colony, Azam Basti, Kala Pul, Korangi, Lines Area and Jet Lines, which are all low income localities of the city.
As such, these children are generally recognised as ‘part timers’ in the business while the others are known as ‘full timers’.
Tauqeer said that a majority of the children at this place and their clients prefer to go to Nazimabad No.2, which is considered a safe place for this kind of activity.
“We get every possible facility at the shops in Nazimabad No.2. We can get a separate room and other things like VCD players along with TV sets,” he continued.
Tauqeer says all the payments are taken in advance in this business. “We generally charge Rs200 for one person for a single session. The owner of the shop charges Rs50 per hour from the client. However, the owner of the shop can charge Rs80 on Sundays. An air-conditioned room can be rented for Rs400 per hour,” it was disclosed.
Child prostitutes like Tauqeer say that they feel secure in Nazimabad No.2 as all the shop owners know them there.
They tell of stories of how some friends were taken away to unknown places and abused repeatedly. “Once a friend of mine was taken by his client to some other place where he was gang raped and left for dead,” he says.
Inflation has also pushed up rates here. A year back, the boys charged Rs100 per session. This has been increased to Rs200.
Most boys here do not use condoms. Tauqeer is amongst the few that do thanks to some advice from an NGO that scared him of the consequences. Tauqeer and other boys happily tell of who their clients are. They allege that their clients include drivers, conductors, police personnel, and even people who come from well-to-do areas and families.