I heard about dancing girls of the Swat valley, Pakistan, as a result of news articles about attempts to eliminate them. For example, Dancing girls of Swat back in business.

I haven't been able to find out much about them - I don't even know what word residents of the Swat valley themselves would use for them. Currently, I'm trying to work out if it's even possible for foreign tourists to see them.

First, is it legal to see dancing girls?

Secondly, some articles have stated that you need a reference in order to be a guest.

“There are 10 to 12 dancing girls in this street. Strangers are not allowed to come here. You can only come through a reference,” says Shabana.

Is this a matter of prestige, trying to make the experience more exclusive? Or is it more a matter of safety, and knowing that the customers won't behave inappropriately towards them? I'm asking because if it's the latter, then it may be possible to get a reference, whereas if it's the former, then it may not be possible to get a reference.

1 Answer 1


Firstly It's legal to see dancing girl but it is not socially accepted in Northern part specially Swat and surroundings. Though they are not eliminated they still exist but Taleban stopping them as suggest this BBC story.

And of course it is not impossible, It's a matter of value how much you give them. But reference can also work.

  • Do dancing girls exist in other parts of Pakistan? Is their dancing similar, or different?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 9:42
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    Thanks for mentioning the words "tawaef" and "kanjari". That's very useful, because it means I can now do a google search for extra information.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 10:38
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    There's a Wikipedia article under the spelling "tawaif". Commented Oct 10, 2013 at 13:18
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    @AndrewGrimm Please don't use these words anywhere, at least in my country (i.e. India) they are severely derogatory and I'm quite sure that it's the same in other Urdu/Arabic influenced parts of the world as well. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 1:50
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    @AndrewGrimm It's as good as calling a prostitute a w****. I mean to say that under any circumstance, using those words would not come off as polite. It would rather sound perverted and derrogatory. You should ideally avoid them in regular speech. At the top of my head, I can't recall a better word for them, but those specific words have a derrogatory connotation attached to them despite probably not being wrong by themselves. I'd advise sticking to dancing girls or show girls. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 4:20

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