Exploitation of commercial sex workers in bangladesh

July 30, 2017 Medical

The commercial sex trade is said to be geographically and culturally omnipresent in nature. As the above citation suggests, the world of the state of affairs resembles that of any market dealing, where the supply of sex workers is driven by demand. Yet stigma is frequently limited to the supply-side of this dealing and reinforced by Torahs and societal values. ‘Women who work in the sex industry are frequently seen as immoral existences, while work forces who pay them for their services are non ‘[ 2 ]. Despite being a planetary phenomenon, commercial sex work is far from homogeneous, changing in magnitude, features and conditions non merely between states and parts but besides within the industry itself. Sexual activity work in Bangladesh is synonymous with development and sex workers face multiple signifiers of want and are highly marginalised in society. This essay aims to research these issues within the context of brothel-based sex work by integrating old research and personal experience. It besides attempts to include the sentiments expressed by adult females within the industry. As the authorization of adult females has been widely acknowledged as an of import end in international development, it is imperative that the predicament of these adult females be addressed.

State Profile

Situated in the north-eastern portion of South Asia, Bangladesh is about wholly surrounded by India, except for the bordering coastline of the Bay of Bengal to the South and a short frontier bordered by Myanmar to the E. Bangladesh is one of the most dumbly populated states in the universe. The state has a population of 160 million, with a corresponding population denseness of more than 1000 per square kilometer[ 3 ]. The capital metropolis of Dhaka has an estimated population of more than 8 million and is quickly spread outing. Bangladesh materialised through low beginnings and in many ways it is still retrieving from the 9 month release war of 1971. Although much advancement has been made since independency, this comparatively immature state is non without battles, some of which are more seeable than others. These battles have manifested themselves in a assortment of signifiers and impact many facets of life in Bangladesh. For case, the World Bank studies that about 50 % of Bangladeshis are still populating under the poorness line, ‘making Bangladesh one of the poorest states in the universe ‘[ 4 ]. Bangladesh is a patriarchal society and as with other developing states, gender favoritism is comparatively widespread among households and in society. Gender hierarchies are peculiarly seeable in underprivileged rural families. Son penchant, male prejudice and female disinheritance have adverse affects on a miss ‘s entree to instruction and wellness attention. Girls from hapless rural households migrate to metropoliss in hunt of employment as domestic workers or in Bangladesh ‘s flourishing garment industry. With really small accomplishments or instruction, these misss are highly susceptible to dangers in unfamiliar metropoliss. Against this background, the state of affairs of adult females in the sex trade is extremely unstable.

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Sexual activity Work

3.1 International Context

3.2 Bangladesh

( the jurisprudence & A ; execution )

Harmonizing to beginnings, an estimated 60,000-200,000 adult females are engaged in commercial sex work in Bangladesh[ 5 ]. One can reason that these are conservative figures given the absence of study statistics and troubles in mensurating the figure of drifting sex workers. Womans fall ining this profession are driven by poorness, deficiency of support chances and societal force per unit area or negative fortunes. Many other immature misss are procured from hapless rural households and forced into the trade by those who reap tremendous net incomes from this moneymaking concern. Irrespective of how a adult female enters the trade, she is considered impure, a fallen adult female, a adult female who belongs to the market. Even if she were to go forth the profession, societal credence would get away her ; ‘once a cocotte, ever a societal pervert ‘[ 6 ]. Whereas the hapless are universally denied certain rights, sex workers are in an even more marginalised place. Although the province prevents harlotry, if a adult female over 18 marks an affidavit attesting her age and stubbornness, she can sell sex with legal countenance. This affidavit is non a trade licence but merely a statement without legal value. Thus, ‘a sex worker bears all the legal duties of her trade but does non acquire any support from the province or jurisprudence to protect her rights to this support ‘[ 7 ].

It is argued that policy shapers and development givers have taken these adult females into consideration mostly because of menaces of deathly diseases pervading society from their out quarters. Whilst Bangladesh has a HIV prevalence of under 0.1 % among the general population, the World Bank has said that hazard factors could fuel the spread of HIV/AIDS among bad groups. These factors include the big commercial sex industry, low consistent rubber usage, high client turnover and prevalence of sexually transmitted infections among sex workers[ 8 ]. By the way, one of the challenges to tracking the current prevalence of HIV/AIDS within the sex industry and among the general population has been the deficiency of HIV surveillance informations in recent old ages. Since 2006 there has been no publication of studies[ 9 ]. However, as sex Sellerss and purchasers are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, the authorities and civil society administrations have been implementing many disease bar programmes. Figure 1 shows that between 1999 and 2003, brothel-based sex workers in Bangladesh displayed a low consistent rubber usage compared to other Asiatic states. Indeed, high client turnover and low rates of rubber use signal a likely HIV/AIDS epidemic but an overpowering bulk of sex workers have other immediate concerns such as development and menaces of eviction.

Figure 1: Condom usage of brothel-based sex workers[ 10 ]

Non-governmental administrations ( NGOs ) bit by bit realised that HIV/AIDS can non be the precedence docket and that societal and legal alterations were cardinal to authorising these adult females[ 11 ]. While societal and policy degree lobbying and empowerment strategies aim to give these adult females an chance to acquire involved in the procedure of alteration and to acquire organised, the authorities ‘s controversial yesteryear determinations to forcibly evict in the name of rehabilitation have worsened conditions. In 1999 for case, the largest and oldest whorehouse in Bangladesh, Tanbazar, was forcefully evicted and closed down. It has been argued that it was political motivations and non the end of rehabilitation that drove this eviction run. The whorehouse landlords, who were affiliated to the resistance party, had established themselves as some of the most influential work forces in the community and this was a menace to the local MP. The adult females of this whorehouse were caught in the center of this power battle. Despite publicized protests and the support of tonss of human and adult females ‘s rights administrations, the sex workers were left more impoverished than of all time. An article following the eviction stated that ‘although the authorities is claiming that the 300 adult females in different shelter places had sought rehabilitation voluntarily, the adult females maintain that they were brought forcefully ‘[ 12 ]. Additionally, the detainees had reported that employees of authorities shelter places physically and sexually mistreat the adult females. Not surprisingly, shuting the whorehouse did non extinguish the demand for harlotry and the evicted sex workers continued to sell sex on the streets. It has been suggested that programmes non following a rights-based attack, such as forced eviction and compulsory rehabilitation, are likely to neglect because coercive intervention is unacceptable in footings of human rights and uneffective in battling HIV/AIDS[ 13 ]. Therefore, it is imperative to include sex workers as active spouses within these programmes.

In recent old ages at that place has been a displacement in societal development attack due to the steady rejection of top-down methods. Over the past two decennaries for case, the United Nations and other international administrations have emphasised the mainstreaming human rights into activities and programmes[ 14 ]. This displacement from a charity or needs attack to a rights-based attack highlights the authorization of socially excluded people by affecting them in the development procedure as active agents instead than donees. As per CARE International ‘s definition, a rights-based attack ’empowers people to claim and exert their rights and fulfil their duties ‘[ 15 ]. This attack focuses on people ‘s ability to accomplish the minimal conditions for life with self-respect by recognizing marginalised people as holding built-in rights[ 16 ]. Sexual activity workers have become progressively involved in the procedure of authorization. For case, NGOs that were implementing the HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme ( HAPP 2000-2007 ) trained and employed many sex workers as equal pedagogues and outreach workers. Through treatments with these equal pedagogues, I came to cognize that non merely did they experience empowered by the fact that they had respectable places but they besides felt that they could assist a batch of vulnerable misss who would otherwise hold no entree to wellness attention installations[ 17 ]. One of the equal pedagogues took me to a house to speak to a residential-based sex worker. The house was situated far off from the chief route, deep in the back back street of Old Dhaka. Once at that place, I could happen nil that distinguished this little bungalow-like house from all the other houses down the route. As the equal pedagogue introduced me to the miss and her ‘owner ‘ ( female caput of the family ) , I realised how hard it would be for this bonded miss to demand her rights. She barely spoke and although she claimed to be 18 old ages old, it was rather obvious that she was much younger. Without the protagonism and resonance edifice by person who has been in this profession, it would about be impossible to make these stray misss.

Figure 2: Tendency of rubber usage

Figure 3: Average fee per visit per clientDespite comparative accomplishments of rights-based intercession, there are of class still operational barriers within this industry. For illustration, even with consciousness edifice and rubber publicity, in many instances clients refuse to pattern safe sex and sex workers must compel. Preventive intercession such as rubber publicity focuses on educating sex workers who in bend motivate their clients. This may be effectual in instances where clients are to the full motivated but condom usage is particularly hard to implement among constabularies, local hoods, jinrikisha pullers and pupils. Furthermore, research reveals that condom usage for street-based sex workers decreases from the first to the last client ( Figure 2 )[ 18 ], possibly due to the deficiency of rubber handiness as the dark progresses. Condom usage is besides dependent on fees paid by the clients ( Figure 3 )[ 19 ]; lessening in fee accompanies the lessening in rubber usage. It is argued that the debut of a fining system for male clients who refuse to utilize rubbers or whorehouse proprietors who fail to provide rubbers would be good in advancing safe sex.

In 2008, I had the chance to see a group of hotel-based sex workers in Kawran Bazar, Dhaka. Here many claimed that some clients refused to utilize a rubber even after the misss ‘ efforts to carry them. When asked what they do in such instances, some replied that they would decline to hold sex. Others said that they would give in ; suggesting that if they refused every client desiring insecure sex, they would gain really small. In other instances where sex workers refuse to hold unprotected sex, clients may besides fall back to force ; as one of many sex workers points out ‘if I do non give in, they beat me, they torture me a batch ‘[ 20 ]. The troubles in implementing and implementing safe sex patterns can besides be addressed from within the industry through a rights-based attack. The World Health Organisation asserts that intercessions to advance safer sex must be integrated into an overall attempt to guarantee safety of sex workers, promote wellness and wellbeing and protect their rights[ 21 ]. Furthermore, if the sex workers are united and organised so they can raise their ain demands and better working conditions from within the industry.

As mentioned, one of the major challenges in the procedure of authorising these adult females is the deficiency of legal acknowledgment and societal stigmatization of the adult females in this trade. Local and international administrations such as CARE Bangladesh, Family Health International and Nari Maitree motivate sex workers to acquire organised, supply legal assistance, medical attention and preparation on homo and legal rights and accomplishments developing. NGOs have had a polar function in the formation of self-help groups. Self-help groups can call up the community and concentrate on overall wellness, socio-economic wellbeing and human rights of their members. With the aid of NGOs, self-help groups organise nest eggs strategies, information airing Sessionss, self-defense categories and baby’s rooms for kids of sex workers. They besides refer sex workers to relevant administrations when they are in demand of aid. This creates an enabling environment for the adult females. One of the first such administrations was Nari Mukti Sangha which was formed in 1997 by sex workers of the Tangail whorehouse. A twelvemonth subsequently the street-based sex workers administration, Durjoy Nari Sangha was established. Both these administrations were registered with the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs and both have recorded many accomplishments in bettering working conditions. For illustration, sex workers in Tangail did non hold the right to burial and their organic structures were thrown into the river. Now thanks to Nari Mukti Sangha, Tangail whorehouse has its ain cemetery where sex workers are laid to rest.

Much of the NGO-led activities may be comparatively effectual but they are limited by support, resources, programme length of service, capacity and graduated table. Without the support of giver bureaus, NGOs are unable to go on programmes and without NGO-backing, self-help groups do non hold sufficient financess to implement organizational activities. By the way, the misdirection and abuse of financess is common among some NGOs. It is of import to observe that the chief donees of the commercial sex concern, such as constabularies and pimps or procurers, are besides loath to better conditions for sex workers. In order to farther understand these obstructions this essay will analyze the kineticss of a workplace ; the whorehouse.

3.3 Inside a Brothel

Figure 4: Whorehouses in Bangladesh

Whorehouses have been described as ‘institutions that society creates on its borders for prolonging the hapless and the incapacitated adult females who fall through its safety cyberspace ‘ . The sex workers are considered mere pawns in this underworld trade, controlled by powerful work forces ( whorehouse landlords, pimps of sex workers and the constabulary ) who reap the benefits. Presently there are 14 acknowledged whorehouses in Bangladesh lodging more than 10,000 sex workers. Figure 4 shows the locations[ 22 ]. These whorehouses vary in size but portion some common features, including the presence of minor sex workers, maltreatment by dames or female whorehouse directors and constabularies torment.

‘In my whole calling as a sex worker, I have non found one individual adult female coming to this profession voluntarily and without any irresistible impulse ‘

-Leader of sex worker ‘s association[ 23 ]

Figure 5 illustrates the life rhythm of sex workers and the internal hierarchy in a whorehouse. The most vulnerable phase in a brothel-based sex worker ‘s life is when she enters the industry at the underside of the whorehouse hierarchy as a bonded miss. Coming from hapless rural households, the misss are frequently victims of trafficking, coerced by bogus matrimony proposals or well-paid occupation offers made by pimps[ 24 ]. For others, the sex industry is the lone option available for endurance because of unequal income, insecurity in other occupations and sexual maltreatment inside and outside the workplace. Many of the sex workers I spoke with shared their experiences of physical and sexual maltreatment in their old occupations or at place. The shame of colza, forsaking or treachery and the demand to supply for their households meant that taking safety in whorehouses became their last resort to a support. It was apparent that these adult females were victims ; topics of male force, betrayed by loved 1s, failed by the province and rejected by a patriarchal society that perpetuates male prejudice and holds adult females accountable.

Independent sex workers

( 18-35 old ages )

Madams/Female whorehouse directors

( 35+ old ages )


Girls come ining sex work

Old & A ; former sex workers

Bonded misss

( 13-17 old ages ) Figure 5: Life rhythm of female sex workers in a whorehouse

Bonded misss continue to be victimised within the whorehouse, confronting anguish and maltreatment at the custodies of dames who are notoriously violent. This rhythm of development continues because today ‘s bonded miss is tomorrow ‘s dame. Becoming a dame is the end of about every sex worker because this is her lone security or prosperity after retirement. However, this end is merely attained by a selected few who are rich and good established adult females. The bulk of old and former sex workers remain within the whorehouse working as housemaids, running errands or happening clients. Inevitably, such adult females have to populate off the charity of others. Madams, on the other manus, aspire to salvage adequate money to purchase credence in society after go forthing the profession ; a desire that is rarely realised.

New misss are starved, crush and gang-raped in order to interrupt down their opposition. Madams, brothel musclemen hired by landlords and hoods working on behalf of dames all play a portion in the barbarous procedure. Bonded misss have to pass a period of at least 1-5 old ages in bondage during which clip they basically have no freedom or rights. Numerous research highlights the fact that madams torture their misss and frequently coerce them to hold unprotected sex with clients if the client is willing to pay a higher rate ; ‘they charge more from clients who want to hold insecure sex but they do non pay us much. If we fall ill they do non let us to go forth ‘ , said a sex worker in Dhaka[ 25 ]. However, the relationship between a dame and her bonded miss is more complex than that of user and victim. Although brothel dames seem to be a portion of the power construction, they are in consequence victims of societal rejection and pawns in the custodies of those who truly control the whorehouse.

3.4 Gatekeepers & A ; Beneficiaries

( why the trade is accepted )

‘During foraies constabularies behave unkindly ; they beat us, discontinue our money, decorations and nomadic phones and coerce us to hold insecure sex with them. If NGOs can non command the police officers we are unable to protect ourselves. We can actuate our clients but non the constabulary. They have the power to hassle us and direct us to imprison ‘

-Brothel-based sex worker[ 26 ]

Beneficiaries outside the whorehouse include the local constabulary who are powerful Godheads of the whorehouse. As all the whorehouses in Bangladesh are situated near a market or a cardinal topographic point in town with a constabulary station located nearby, constabularies on a regular basis extract money from sex workers and dames[ 27 ]. To guarantee that sex workers are of age and accepting to sex, misss in the whorehouse must register their name and personal information at the constabulary station. This becomes an chance for police officers to pull out fees for every new miss come ining the whorehouse. As Figure 5 suggests, an overpowering figure of bonded misss are minor, frequently every bit immature as 13 or 14. The dame obtain an affidavit on their behalf, saying that they are 18, accepting to the sex trade and really hapless. In fact a big figure of these affidavits are obtained through payoffs. The constabulary are besides responsible for keeping jurisprudence and order within whorehouses. There are legion instances of constabulary mistreating these duties and pull outing money from the misss and dames. Brothel foraies exacerbate constabulary force as sex workers who are rounded up during foraies are beaten and coerced into holding sex in exchange for their release.

Wider Context

Gender inequality


Some administrations that provide wellness services to arouse workers remain in lasting contact with the constabulary to educate officers on the harmful effects of their actions. This gives administrations an chance to face maltreatment of the jurisprudence by single constabulary officers. To cut down favoritism and force against sex workers, it is recommended that gender and human rights preparation be provided for constabulary officers[ 28 ]. Conducting sensitization workshops for constabulary and jurisprudence enforcement governments can cut down torment and intervention in bar and outreach programmes that are indispensable for brothel-based sex workers[ 29 ]. Though legalization of sex work is problematic, misdemeanor of human rights by those who are employed to continue the security and rights of citizens, is unacceptable. By definition, a system that allows these felons in uniforms to work defenseless adult females and misss is a failed system. Brothel ‘rescue ‘ foraies and confirmation of age and consent entirely serve the involvements of corrupt officers. This avenue of intercession is neglecting to cut down the figure of minor misss in whorehouses and is propagating the rhythm of subjugation. Whilst legal assistance administrations such as Ain o Shalish Kendra play a critical function in offering legal representation for sex workers who have been subjected to patrol force, it is frequently hard for the most vulnerable misss to obtain this support[ 30 ]. Outreach and protagonism programmes, self-help administrations and community mobilization through the motive of gatekeepers make wellness attention and legal assistance more accessible to sex workers. Field research workers agree that these misss are excessively frightened to speak about their rough life conditions. Inaccessibility to these workers makes it indispensable for sex worker-led enterprises. Successful sex workers administrations, such as Calcutta ‘s Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee which represents more than 65,000 sex workers, require support, capacity-building and proficient support[ 31 ]. There is still some work to be done before sex worker administrations in this state make their full potency and go self-sufficing administrations but it is decidedly a executable purpose for the close hereafter. Last twelvemonth, a member of a sex workers ‘ administration in Dhaka said their administration on occasion helped minor misss escape from the industry. But get awaying is merely the first measure. There must be a construction in topographic point to re-integrate these misss into the greater society. The work of NGOs in this field is applaudable but the province and society as a whole must besides play its portion in protecting the rights of these marginalised adult females.

Article 27 of the Constitution of the People ‘s Republic of Bangladesh provinces that ‘All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law ‘ . This implies that adult females within the sex industry are equal and entitled. It besides suggests that no 1 is above the jurisprudence, irrespective of their political associations ( landholders of whorehouses ) or occupation descriptions ( constabulary ) . Sexual activity workers are the victims of this industry and yet they are consistently disempowered and criminalised within the current model. As it is compulsory for the province to forestall harlotry and uphold the Constitution, it is imperative to see the demand for commercial sex and to keep clients as much accountable as the sex workers. Parenthetically, if the province is serious about undertaking harlotry so there must be an probe into why this remains the merely support available for these adult females. As a long-run end a holistic supply-side intercession programme could be designed to embrace the followers:

Preparation Safety for vulnerable misss come ining any signifier of employment: village-level and city-level preparation to cognize their rights, ego defense mechanism, enrollment system with human rights administrations, gender sensitization for both male and female workers, monthly reding at work, better describing system on sexual torment in the workplace, ‘buddy ‘ system for late displacements so misss do n’t walk place entirely, increasing security of miss ‘s inns, colza dismaies and rapid community response.

Prevention Girls about to come in the sex industry: village-level protagonism, small town describing strategy of possible pimps, prosecution of pimps, reding misss who are sing this profession and supplying alternate supports.

Protection Sex workers: community mobilization, protagonism, reding, continuing human rights of these adult females such as extinguishing constabulary force, entree to wellness proviso, mainstreaming kids of sex workers and cut downing societal stigma.

Options Sex workers desiring to go forth the profession: incorporating former sex workers into programmes, supplying life skill preparation and voluntary rehabilitation, cut downing societal stigma at every degree through instruction and protagonism and supplying options to the sex industry.

It is frequently far excessively easy to do generalizations about this industry and the replies or solutions seem evident. Yet the world is that the sex industry is multifaceted and of all time altering. An even harsher world is that this industry exists within a state plagued by poorness, gender prejudice and corruptness. Equally easy as it is for me to offer generic suggestions, the cooperation of the province and execution of such ambitious programmes is a close impossible dream. Nevertheless, conditions are easy bettering and a big figure of dedicated persons and administrations are recommending on behalf of sex workers throughout Bangladesh. Change does n’t go on overnight and although it may be a really long clip before adult females in this industry are to the full recognised and empowered, I steadfastly believe that advancement is inevitable.


‘All human existences are born free and equal in self-respect and rights ‘[ 32 ]

This paper has endeavoured to function a minuscular part of a really big bar and in making so it has possibly merely scraped the marchpane surface. Indeed, assorted administrations have dedicated a great figure of old ages to assisting members within the sex worker community and they have easy collected information in order to bring forth in depth portrayals of adult females engaged in this industry. The adult females themselves have been empowered by this procedure and have contributed greatly to the improvement of life and on the job conditions. Everyone is born free and equal, but the ability to see this freedom and implement this equality varies. There remains an immediate demand to reform the power construction that tolerates police force against sex workers. The province, policymakers and society in general must be committed to recognizing and continuing the rights of sex workers as citizens. Finally, alternate supports and bar strategies must be accompanied by coincident methods to undertake the demand-side of commercial sex. One must gain that we are inactive perceivers and besides direct or indirect participants in the building of marginalization. The planetary community can positively or negatively act upon the positions towards adult females engaged in this industry. International and national administrations and possibly more significantly self-help administrations must go on to work as support systems for the marginalised group and work towards a more inclusive society. Everyone will populate in freedom and equality in self-respect and right ; an idealistic and possibly non-achievable end but however a end worth working towards.

6. References & A ; Notes


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