The world’s largest red-light district, purposely built by the French for the sex industry, was located in Casablanca, Morocco. It existed for 24 years, during which over 20,000 women passed through this “laboratory.” This was something unheard of in Muslim society. “Prosper,” which means “prosperity” in French, was a term used to refer to the pimps who managed the girls. In Arabic, the letter “P” is not pronounced, so the prosperous area became known as “Busbir,” which was named after a trader from Casablanca who leased land to the “needy” for the construction of houses.
In Casablanca, there were 2 Busbiras. Initially, this area was located behind the municipal swimming pool, approximately where the Casablanca International Fair was built. Later, the “district” moved to New Medina. The Busbir quarter (humbly called the “reserved district”) was a very popular place: there were always more men than women in Casablanca (a large number of soldiers in the garrison, hundreds of sailors – especially Americans – who needed to be occupied during the long weeks of unloading and loading their ships at the port, officials, numerous travelers, and especially French settlers). This was a period when brothels were closed in France and colonizers began to open public houses in Morocco. It was in Casablanca where several famous “houses” were first established: the big five, Sphinx, green balconies…
The overwhelming majority of girls were Moroccans, Muslims; there were also Jewish girls. Many were brought from distant villages, starting at the age of 13. Once they entered the quarter, it was impossible to leave. A mark was placed on their bodies to identify these women. Those who became sick were taken out of town and left so that they couldn’t walk back. European women, French, Spanish, Italian, also worked there. In the Busbir quarter, there were secrets, and streets were categorized as “good” or “bad”. It was mainly a mass sex-conveyor, and the clients were not demanding; they needed it done quickly and well. There was a whole street with houses of homosexual transvestites, to suit every taste and color. General Liote often sent newly arrived boys to the quarter for himself to “try out” (General Liote, he will have a separate article).
On postcards from that time, four portraits of women were depicted in the four corners: one at the top right – a Jewish woman whose financial situation forced her to sell her body. They were either divorced women rejected by their families and without means of subsistence, or professionals who lived off prostitution and could not find normal work.
In this mini-city of pleasures, there was its own law enforcement service, a police station, several cinemas, cafes and restaurants, laundries, hammams, music salons, shops, and kiosks. The quarter had its own medical office.
The famous sex district was finally closed and dismantled to its foundations by the authorities immediately after Morocco gained independence.