4. “My work is not worthy of respect. Why then do you join in it with me?”

Firdaus asks this of Di’aa, a client of hers who tells her that she is not respectable. Di’aa has been stung by Firdaus’s professional attitude about prostitution, and tells her that she should hang out a list of prices, as a doctor would do. Firdaus asks him if he’s being sarcastic, and he says yes. He says that a doctor charges by the minute as well, but a doctor feels he is worthy of respect. Prostitutes, according to Di’aa, deserve no respect. Firdaus responds with the quote above. For Firdaus, this exchange is typical of the hypocrisy of men. She and her clients are both having illicit sex, and yet only Firdaus is considered shameful. Di’aa’s comments only reinforce her idea that men and women live in separate worlds with separate rules, and that there can be no reconciling them. Still, she tries to point out to him that though he considers himself respectable, he is also engaging in an activity not worthy of respect. Di’aa is unfazed, and tries to kiss her. Firdaus kicks Di’aa out, but his words haunt her. This is the first time it has occurred to Firdaus that she might be unworthy of respect. Because of this, she stops prostituting, and goes to work in an office, trying to learn what it means to be respectable.