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The Hidden Culture of a Red Light Area
In Taboo! Fouzia Saeed has given us a valuable socio-cultural interpretation of a subject that was once touched upon and portrayed by Manto. Fouzia has described the historic context of prostitution in the subcontinent in a way that has never been done before. Going to the Shahi Mohalla has long been a taboo for our middle class. Yet Fouzia was able to spend enough time to delve deeply into the morality, ego, and social behaviour of our fading traditional prostitute society.
– Kishwar Naheed, Poet and Author
This is the most readable and yet thoroughly researched account of sex workers in our society. It is as interesting as it is compassionate; and yet it abides by the strictest scholarly criteria of objectivity and scholarly precision. It should be on the reading list of scholars, decision-makers and people belonging to all walks of life.
– Dr Tariq Rahman, Professor, Quaid-i-Azam University
Taboo! is a manifestation of Dr Fouzia Saeed’s passionate fight against the taboos and stigmas of our society, particularly those that affect women. Those who think one loses energy, strength, and determination with age, should follow Dr Fouzia’s example. One day of her life is heavier in both struggle and achievement than several years of many. I am proud to count her among my friends.
– Shoaib Mansoor, Film Director
The deep bonds between India and Pakistan are nurtured by centuries of shared history and culture. The people in India have been enriched by the scholarship and activism of Fouzia Saeed, one of South Asia’s leading feminists. In her study, women in the red-light area of Lahore emerge as persons of substance and worth, making the book local, but also universal in its humanism.
– Harsh Mandar, Author and Social Activist
Dr Fouzia Saeed has written extensively on Pakistani culture and social issues. Her 2001 ethnography of the walled city of Lahore, Taboo (OUP), retains a cult-like following in five languages. The true story of her successful efforts to counter sexual harassment in her own career, inspiring many who work on this problem today, is chronicled in Working with Sharks.
Dr Saeed earned her PhD from the University of Minnesota. Her unique perspective stems from her many roles as a social activist, a development professional, a successful manager, and an accomplished scholar. She has spent over 30 years on social change in Pakistan. While writing her five books, she also created Pakistan’s first women’s crisis centre, successfully advocated for the passage of seven laws for women’s rights, including two against sexual harassment, and revitalised Lok Virsa, Pakistan’s Institute of Folk Heritage.
International organisations have frequently acknowledged her work. The World Movement for Democracy produced a film on her life, entitled I Was Not Alone. She is also regularly invited to speak at universities in many countries.