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- Thursday, November 11, 2010 - From Print Edition




After being on the best-seller charts of Pakistan since 2001, ‘Taboo,’ the hidden culture of the red light area, has made its way in Japan. It had been translated in Urdu, Hindi, Marathi and now in Japanese. It was released in Tokyo in a high level event organised jointly by the Japanese Government’s Cultural Division, Japan Foundation and International House of Japan.


The ceremony was attended by the cultural elite, academics and civil society leaders of Tokyo. The Ambassador of Pakistan, Noor Mohammad Jadmani graced the occasion, says a message received here.


Dr Fouzia Saeed at this book launch shared how the issue of good women and bad women has not left our patriarchal societies. She talked about parallels of Pakistani and Japanese society where in Pakistan the red light areas and brothels limit and contain the issue of prostitution but in Japanese society it has become very difficult to study it as the phenomenon has spread out in all sectors of the society.


Not making a moral judgment, she said that Japanese society has 0.19 growth rate, many of its women and men do not want to get married and the access to prostitution and pornographic material is very easy. Perhaps this book will facilitate the Japanese readers to think about such issues in their society and reflect on the future direction the society wants to take.


Dr Fouzia Saeed is in Japan on a programme called Asian Leadership Fellow Program. Only six people from the Asian countries are selected to participate every year. These people are leaders in their own fields and live in Japan for two months for exchange of ideas. Other than Dr Fouzia, there is a Chinese leader, Thai, Sri Lankan, Korean and one from Japan.


During this program, Dr Fouzia has given talks around her book and related topics in the famous universities of Japan. She travelled to many cities of this country and met the professors and intellectuals there.


Her talks were well received in Fukuoka, University of Kobe, University of Osaka, University of Kyoto, Rikkyo University, University of Tokyo, Seisen University, Sofia University, JICA and several Women’s and community centres. At the end of this tour the major programme around her book was organised on November 11th as her main book launch.


Masako Otta a professor at a university in Kyushu was the main translator. She was assisted by three other Japanese translators to finish the translation in about two years.


One of the translators was working in the Japanese embassy several years ago when she happen to read ‘Taboo’ and totally fell in love with it. She then approached Dr Fouzia if she and her friends could jointly translate it in Japanese.


At the time she felt that the parallels of courtesan and geisha phenomenon would make it relevant for the Japanese audience but later they realized that the questions Dr Fouzia raised about morality of women were very relevant in the Japanese and in fact to any other society of this world.