Happy-ending massage parlours: When filth comes to Karachi DHA
Massage is taken as a therapy to relieve stress and rejuvenate the mind and body after a day’s hectic routine. In our society a “maalishi” is considered a magician who can instantly relieve you of your knots and spasms. However, since the last five to six years we have witnessed a mushroom growth of salons offering different kinds of massages ranging from neck and shoulder to full body Thai massages.
Besides the high end spas, a relatively recent entrant in this market, are “massage parlours” operating in certain commercial areas of DHA and Clifton. Out of curiosity, I did some investigative journalism, went deep into this world, met the concerned people and collected a plethora of facts and figures. Some background interviews with people involved in such a business and clients frequenting these facilities revealed the following facts:
How do they advertise?
Shady massage parlours advertise through some unconventional channels. They post subliminal ads on certain classified web portals offering therapies and beauty services for men and women in a “relaxing” and “Bangkok” like environment. That’s where the catch is.
For people who are familiar with such facilities, the mere use of term “relaxation” rings a bell and the attention has been captured. Such parlours have also started sending bulk text messages with similar subliminal terminologies intended for people who have a taste for these “services”.
What exactly happens there?
Ads for massage parlours come with a cell number. You call on that number and the person at the other end tells you to reach a certain landmark and call him/her from there. That’s the first sign of the place being a suspicious joint. They don’t operate publicly. Once you reach the venue, you realise you are standing in front of a salon in a rundown building and the shopkeepers in the neighbouring blocks are staring at you with suspicion.
You ring the bell or knock on the door and are greeted warmly by a skimpily dressed girl. The very first question you are asked is the “reference” you came with. If you satisfy them, you are then led to a sitting area where you witness a parade of women wearing cleavage exposing clothes and you are asked to pick the one you like. Your pick of the day then leads you to a make shift room, made of hardwood walls after paying a counter fee and you are asked to “change your clothes” which actually means “take them off”.
The word 'massage' at such parlours is just a cover up and instead what happens is prostitution behind closed doors. These girls offer you “relaxation” services that start off with a basic full body massage and end “happily” with another set of services which are sexual in nature.
How much do they charge?
Counter fee at such parlours is usually between Rs2000 to Rs3500 and the girls ask for tips ranging from Rs1000 to Rs4000 depending on the “services” you desire.
Where are these parlours located?
They can be found in some streets of Zamzama commercial area, Bukhari Commercial area, Khadda Market, Badar Commercial area, areas close to Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s mazaar, Tauheed Commercial area, a few are on main Nishat Commercial and some residential blocks of DHA and Clifton.
Who runs these facilities?
Some big mafias are involved in this business. My investigation took me to people I’d never want to mess with. On the condition of anonymity, one person running such a parlour revealed the name of a famous “land grabber” who happens to be holding an important portfolio in the current Sindh Government and is related to a famous widower. Most of the parlours in the DHA area are being patronised and protected by him.
How do they stay out of the radar?
Darakshan, Gizri and Boat Basin police stations are fully aware of all the massage parlours operating within their jurisdiction. Some conversations revealed that each parlour is supposed to pay bribes ranging from Rs50,000 to Rs200,000 to the Station House Officer (SHO) of the concerned police stations; failing to do so results in a raid and an arrest of the clients busy in their “moments of relaxation”. However, once the owner of the facility pays off the required bribe, the parlour becomes operational the very next day.
Who are their clients?
Business tycoons, young boys from influential families, men from interior Sindh and up country staying in Karachi for work, police officers and government officials.
What can DHA and the Sindh Government do about it?
The DHA vigilance department will have to play their role in curbing this practice before it spreads more filth in the neighbourhood. They carry out raids on sheesha bars, confiscate push carts, penalise illegal constructions but have failed to step hard on such immoral activities taking place right under their nose. The Sindh Government will have to constitute a special committee of honest and competent officers who can act without any influence and crack down on all such shady businesses without any prejudice.
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