Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sex For Sale

I spent part of New Year's Day on a walking tour guided by an acquaintance I met the day before at a cafe in the centuries-old neighborhood of Bab el Khadra.  His name is Hechmi and he speaks no English and very little French.  We did our best to understand each other, but we did not always succeed.

During the course of our walk, I tried to get him to help me understand how a man in Tunisia could find a wife when there seemed to be so few women around to meet.  The next thing I knew, we were navigating our way through a medina just off a square not far from the French Embassy.  I have since determined that Hechmi led me to a red light district that apparently was known to all the world except me.  Until now.

The place was teeming with men and even a few adolescents.  As we negotiated our way through the crowd, we passed several open doors where we were offered a glimpse of what we might want to sample.  I personally thought the merchandise could only appeal to someone with few options.  That might explain why the going rate was as low as 10 dinars (about $6.50).  Even at those prices, the vast majority of potential buyers seemed to be merely window shopping, standing outside each door salivating at the goods on display.  Considering the income of the average Tunisian, that may be all what they could afford to do, leaving them content with a memory they might later recall on a lonely night.

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