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Veiled Paradox

New York-based photographer Kate Orne has focused her lens on Pakitsani prostitution over a number of years in an effort to expose the denial, modesty, pretense and cultural oppression which envelope it.


Young women from rural villages and refugee camps are sold to the brothels by human-traffickers, while others are born into the trade.


Prostitution is forbidden under Islamic law, but with the increasing influence of extremist groups, the women risk severe punishment under Sharia Law through beheadings and stoning to death.

The laws – both secular and sacred – seem to disregard the context in which women have entered the profession while paying negligible attention to the men who engage their services.

The women practice modesty according to Islam. For a woman not to cover her chest… is considered daring – even among prostitutes.

Proceeds from Orne’s print sales from the series May You Never Be Uncovered: The Victims of Pakistan’s Sex Trade support education of the children of Pakistani prostitutes via the Sheed Foundation – “a small but highly efficient community-based organization addressing the social problems faced in particular by the local female sex workers and their children who suffer from oppression, poverty, illiteracy and abuse.”
Orne highlights cultural complexity through her portraits and studies which are both intimate yet modest. Her images don’t provide us with answers but rather confront us to question deeper the paradoxes at play surrounding prostitution. And I’d hasten to add that they are not limited to Pakistan nor Islam.

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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • arlet May 1, 2010, 12:07 PM

    Thank you, Kate, for your beautiful heartbreaking photos and thanks for your insight and work. Arl

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