Bangladeshi legal brothels are a hub of child trafficking

Prostitution is considered illegal in many parts of the world including India. Among the very few countries, the country, Bangladesh considers prostitution as a legal profession.

Kandapara Brothel is the second largest brothel in the country. It is located in the Tangail district in Bangladesh. This brothel has been known to have existed since the last 200 years.

Asma stopped attending school when the students harassed her because her mother worked as a sex worker in the brothel. She started as a sex worker when she was 14 years old. Before that, she danced in front of customers. Credit: Sandra Hoyn.

According to a photojournalist, Sandra Hoyn, the life in Bangladesh is very much different unlike the other countries. The city has its own rules and regulations and power differs in accordance to choice. Women are weaker as well as powerful depending on the situation.

Girls of 12 to 14 years of age are made to enter the industry. Due to unavoidable conditions like poverty and illiteracy, they either choose to be sex-workers or are trafficked to become sex-workers. Once they enter the industry, they belong to the head “madam”. These girls have no freedom or rights of their own and have to work for five years as bonded workers under the madam until their debt is paid off.

Pakhi, 15, with a customer in her room in the Kandapara brothel. She’s lived in the brothel since she was 14. She got married at 12 and ran away shortly after. A man picked her off the street and sold her into a brothel. Credit: Sandra Hoyn.

A number of women coming from poor families choose to become sex workers as well as some who are subjected to trafficking. Once the debt is paid off, they have the freedom to pursue independence as a sexual worker. They can choose or refuse the sex owners they get.

Kajol with her 6-month-old baby Mehedi and a customer on her bed. She thinks she is 17, but does not know her exact age. She was married at 9 years old. Her aunt sold her to the Kandapara brothel. Two weeks after the birth, she was forced to have sex again with customers. Because of the baby, her business is not so good. Credit: Sandra Hoyn.

There are many under aged girls working in the brothel. These 10-12 year old girls are forced to take steroids like oradexon to look older and healthier. Oradexon is a drug used to fatten livestock.

Little girls are picked up from the streets and sold to brothels. These little girls are subjected to heinous circumstances but endure such situations and manage to remain strong.

The story was originally published by Amanda Froelich on True Activist

Featured Image: Sumaiya, 17, with her boyfriend and regular customer Titu, 23, in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail. He is from Dhaka and visits her every month for one week. Credit: Sandra Hoyn.

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