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Dance, music and sex: How technology killed Pak's historic red light district

Current version: August 23, 2016

By: Andnet Amare

Pakistan's oldest red light district was for centuries a hub of traditional erotic dancers, musicians and sex workers-- Pigalle with a Mughal twist, deep in the heart of vibrant Lahore.

But as an e-commerce boom revolutionises how Pakistanis conduct the world's oldest profession, locals say the historic Heera Mandi district is under threat.

Balconies where beautiful women once stood are now empty, while rust eats away at the locked doors of vacant rooms. The only stubborn hold-outs are shops selling instruments that once facilitated the aperitifs of music and dance.

Men now can book a rendezvous online through escort websites or even directly with women over social media, instead of searching out street-side solicitation.

With location rendered meaningless, sex workers like Reema Kanwal -- who says the business "runs in my blood" -- have abandoned Heera Mandi. The district, whose name translates as "Diamond Market", is close to the echoing, centuries-old Badshahi Mosque.

During the Mughal era, the great Islamic empire that ruled most of the Indian subcontinent in the 15th and 16th centuries, Heera Mandi was a centre for mujra, traditional singing and dancing performed for the elites.

The wealthy even sent their sons to the salons of tawaifs, high-class courtesans that have been likened to Japanese geishas, to study etiquette.

Later, when the British came, distinctions between courtesan or mujra dancer and sex worker were blurred.

Dance and sex became intertwined, and Heera Mandi began its long slide into sordidness -- but even so, Reema remembers "glorious" days.

Reema's mother and grandmother were also sex workers, making her part of Heera Mandi's generations of women who danced and pleased men in the market.

"People used to respect the prostitutes of Heera Mandi, we were called artists," she says -- but all has changed over the last decade. "Now we don't have any honour."

She blames the loss on a rush of girls without her family background taking up the profession who have not been taught "how to treat people" the way she has.

Diamonds in the rough

Such girls, she says, need nothing to market themselves but a mobile phone, with which they can advertise on Facebook or Locanto, some offering services over Skype for as little as 300 Pakistani rupees.

Dozens of escort services with online bookings claim to serve thousands of clients in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad -- some even in Dubai and Singapore.

In a deeply conservative Muslim country where sex work is banned and sex outside marriage is criminalised, one website says it caters to roughly 50,000 customers.

With the old traditions falling by the wayside, girls also no longer need an entourage of musicians and teachers, say the owners of the music shops that are the final remnants of old Heera Mandi.

The intricate mujra dancing that was such a foundation of the red light district required years of teaching and live musicians. Now girls learn easy but provocative dance moves via YouTube.

"They take a USB or sometimes they don't even need that, they have songs in their cellphones, they plug a cable and play the music," laments Soan Ali, one of the music shop owners.

Like Reema, Ali's family has also been in Heera Mandi for generations, and he proudly recalled his father's "hospitality" as he attempted to lure clients for his mother.

He takes a deep breath. "We are having a lot of difficulties," he admits. "Whoever is in this field is going through hard days."

'Heera Mandi is no more'

For those who have migrated beyond Heera Mandi, however, the future is bright.

Mehak, who declined to give her full name, is a cosmetic surgeon by profession, a feminist by ideology, and by night one of Pakistan's most elite madams.

Seven sleek Persian cats prowl among the expensive wooden furniture of her home, which doubles as a brothel for upper-class Pakistanis in a wealthy residential neighbourhood of Lahore.

Mehak, who is in her mid-50s, says she recruits most of her girls through elite parties -- but adds "this online thing has really changed the business".

"A girl no longer needs a pimp to market her, she has Facebook, Twitter," she says.

"Heera Mandi is no more... even if a girl is from Heera Mandi she would never reveal it because the client would never risk sexually transmitted diseases and the bad image associated," she added.

Outside of the Diamond Market, she says, business is good.

"Medical students and MBAs have the highest rates, they get a hundred thousand (Pakistani rupees, or $1,000) for one night," she says.

Now she plans to expand and offer male sex workers. "Girls from the elite class come to me and beg for boys," she says. "They say they are ready to pay, but they need strong boys."


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Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia advertises for eight new executioners

Current version: May 19, 2015

By: Alhassan Baako

An advertisement for the positions was posted on the country's civil service jobs website, stating that the role involves "executing a judgement of death" but requires no specific qualifications.

Successful applicants would also reportedly have to perform amputations on people convicted of less serious crimes.

Executions in Saudi Arabia have reportedly increased significantly this year, with the Saudi Press Agency reporting 85 people have been put to death since the beginning of 2015. A total of 88 people were executed in 2014.

Amnesty International's Saudi Arabian researcher told The Independent he believed the advertisement indicated authorities had no plans of reducing their use of capital punishment.

"There's already been an unprecedented spike in executions in Saudi Arabia this year – the recruitment of more executioners is a clear sign that the authorities have no intention of rolling back this execution spree any time soon," he said.

"The scores of people who go to their deaths in beheadings every year in Saudi Arabia often do so after deeply unfair trials, including after “confessions” extracted under torture."


The Spanish masturbation expert Fran Sanchez Oria argues: "Masturbating for great sexual health… can increase your testosterone levels, specially when combined with ejaculation edging. I could probably make another post just on this, but in a nutshell if you masturbate until you are close to climax then stop, and repeat several times, your testosterone levels will build up significantly." Caught with his pants down, Fran Sanchez Oria (subsequently removed the page, but a printscreen is here and here.


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Kenya

Natural remedies for migraines

Current version: July 13, 2016

By: Bongani Langa

Though the causes of migraines are unknown, it is speculated that genetics, environmental factors and imbalances in brain chemicals are the likely culprits.

Depending on severity of the migraines, treatment options are either pain relieving medicine or alternative treatments like acupuncture.

There are, however, some natural remedies which one can turn to. These include:

Peppermint oil: The active ingredient in peppermint oil, known as menthol, has been seen to be very effective in stopping migraine pain, especially when the oil is applied to the forehead and temples. It has vaso-dilating and vaso-constricting effects on the body which helps to control blood flow — a common trigger for migraines.

Ginger: Ginger powder has been seen to work similarly with common migraine prescriptions. The advantage is that, in its natural form, it definitely has fewer side effects.

Basil Oil: This herb is commonly used to spice up stews, pastas and pizzas. But basil is also a muscle relaxant, meaning it is very effective in relieving headaches.

Lavender Oil: This herbal home remedy smells great and often has relaxing effects on a person. It is very effective for migraine pain as well, especially when one inhales the vapor. Two to four drops of lavender oil in three cups of boiling water is recommended.

Avoid foods with artificial sweetener aspartame and preservative monosodium glutamate since these two trigger migraines.


Shockwave therapy is the new Viagra. It actually cures erectile dysfunction and causes penis enlargement. You can do your own shockwave therapy. Just dangle your dick in front of the subwoofer, and turn your ghetto blaster to full power.


Butea superba conditions the mind for superb sex. And don't underestimate the power of the mind. If your mind is in tune for optimal sex, you will reach 100 years and still enjoy doing it.


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