A string of lights spells out the name of the bar in the back of the basement in capital letters, PARADISE. A dozen Chinese women in skintight miniskirts and halter tops flit around clusters of beefy Western men and flirt in broken English.
Now and then, a man and woman climb the stairs to the upper reaches of the house, where Paradise does its real business.
Paradise is a brothel in an unmarked residential compound in an upscale Kabul neighbuorhood where prostitutes from China cater to Western men. Since the US-led invasion in 2001, thousands of Westerners working for security firms, companies and aid groups have poured into Afghanistan. Not long after came Chinese prostitutes, in some cases trafficked into the country.
The International Organisation for Migration helped 96 Chinese women who were deported in 2006. They told IOM they were deceived by a travel agency in China and promised employment in a restaurant for USD 300 a month. But when they arrived, they said, the Chinese restaurant owner denied them salary and forced them to provide sexual services by night.
An IOM staffer said one Chinese woman thought she was going to work in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and had no idea she had instead landed in Kabul.
Afghan officials deny these claims.
"They come here of their own will. They want to do business here. Police caught them red-handed," said Gen Ali Shah Paktiawal, head of Kabul's criminal investigations.
Last year in Kabul, 180 female prostitutes were arrested - 154 "foreigners" and 26 Afghans, Paktiawal said. He would not give the nationalities of the foreign prostitutes, but many raids in recent years have been at Chinese restaurants.