Prostitution in Bangladesh

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Prostitution in Bangladesh is legal and so are brothels.[1]In 2002 the government changed the law in an effort to improve the legal situation of prostitutes.However the social stigmatization of prostitutes continue to lead a double life.[2]

Policy and law[edit]

Prostitution is legal in Bangladesh, but the Bangladesh constitution provides that the "State shall endeavor to prevent gambling and prostitution." Various provisions of different laws prohibit child prostitution and forced prostitution:

Section 364A - Whoever, kidnaps or abducts any person under the age of ten, in order that such a person may be or subjected to slavery or to the lust of any person shall be punished with death or with imprisonment for life or for rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 14 years and may not be less than 7 years.
Section 366A - Whoever, by any means whatsoever, induces any minor girl under the age of eighteen years to go from any place or to do any act with the intent that such a girl may be or knowing that it is likely that she will be, forded or seduced to illicit intercourse with another person shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine.
Section 373 - Whoever buys, hires or otherwise obtains possession of any person under the age of eighteen years with the intent that such person shall at any age be employed or used for the purpose of prostitution or illicit intercourse with any person or knowing it likely that such person will at any age be employed or used for such purpose with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend 10 years and fine. Any prostitute or any person keeping or managing a brothel, who buys, hires or otherwise obtains possession of a female under the age of 18 years, shall until the contrary is proved, be presumed to have obtained possession of such female with the intent that she shall be used for the purpose of prostitution.


Local NGOs estimate the total number of female prostitutes to be as many as 100,000.[3]

Child prostitution[edit]

Child prostitution is widespread and a serious problem. The majority of Bangladeshi prostituted children are based in brothels, with a smaller number of children exploited in hotel rooms, parks, railway and bus stations and rented flats.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimated in 2004 that there were 10,000 underage girls used in commercial sexual exploitation in the country, but other estimates placed the figure as high as 29,000.[3]

Many girls involved in child labour, such as working in factories and as domestic workers are raped or sexually exploited; these girls are highly stigmatised and many of them flee to escape such abuse, but often they find that survival sex is the only option open to them—once involved with prostitution they become even more marginalized.[4]

More than 20,000 children are born and live in the 18 registered red-light areas of Bangladesh. Boys tend to become pimps once they grow up and girls continue in their mothers’ profession. Most of these girls enter the profession before the age of 12.[5][6]

Disabled children who live in institutions and children displaced as a result of natural disasters such as floods are highly susceptible to commercial sexual exploitation.[4]

Girls are often sold by their families to brothels for a period of two to three years of bonded sex work. Visits to the brothels of Faridpur and Tangail in 2010 revealed that most sex workers there take or are made to take the steroid drug dexamethasone to gain weight and to look better.[7][8]

The authorities generally ignore the minimum age of 18, often circumvented by false statements of age, for legal female prostitution; the government rarely prosecutes procurers of minors.[3]

Violence against prostitutes[edit]

While laws relating to violence against women, including rape, apply equally to prostitutes, in practice they are discriminated against as they will be classified as 'habituated' to sexual intercourse and proof will be considered to be harder to give/accept. Prostitutes are often subjected to harassment and violence from the Police who are theoretically supposed to protect their rights.

Human trafficking[edit]

Unwed mothers, orphans, and others outside the normal family support system are the most vulnerable to human trafficking. Government corruption greatly facilitates the process of trafficking. Police and local government officials often ignore trafficking in women and children for commercial sexual exploitation and are easily bribed by brothel owners and pimps. Women and children are trafficked both internally and internationally. International criminal gangs conduct some of the trafficking; the border with India is loosely controlled, especially around Jessore and Benapole, which makes illegal border crossings easy.[3]

Police estimate more than 15,000 women and children are smuggled out of Bangladesh every year. Bangladesh and Nepal are the main sources of trafficked children in South Asia. Bangladeshi women and girls are forced into the brothels of India, Pakistan, Malaysia, UAE and other Asian countries.[9]

Methods and techniques of trafficking[edit]

The Constitution states that each individual is entitled to choose his/her own profession/occupation or trade. Taking advantage of the vulnerability of the poverty-stricken or opportunity seeking people, traffickers either coerce, entice, lure or sell minors and other gullible persons into prostitution. They make them execute affidavits in front of false magistrates/impersonators stating that they have gone into prostitution of their own volition and they are over 18 years old. Forms of trafficking include fake marriages, sale by parents to "uncles" offering jobs, auctions to brothel owners or farmers, and abduction. Traffickers and procurers pose as prospective husbands to impoverished families. They take the girls away and sell them into prostitution. A large number of "brides" have been collected in this manner and brought as a group to Pakistan where they are handed over to local traffickers.

Coalition Against Trafficking in Women - Bangladesh,[10] which comprises 40 organizations, is working on this issue.[11]


According to NGO's prostitutes and their clients are most at risk form HIV due to ignorance and lack of public information about unprotected sex.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bangladesh says prostitution legal". BBC News. 2000-03-14. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d "2008 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh". Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  4. ^ a b "Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial sexual exploitation of children: Bangladesh". ECPAT International. 2006. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  5. ^ "Bangladesh's Child Sex Workers: No Place To Go". 2002-11-27. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  6. ^ "Child Prostitution: The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children". 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  7. ^ "A new danger for sex workers in Bangladesh". The Guardian. 5 April 2010. 
  8. ^ "Bangladesh's dark brothel steroid secret". BBC News. 30 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation - Bangladesh". Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  10. ^ "Coalition Against Trafficking in Women". Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  11. ^ Sigma Huda (1999-01-29). "Trafficking and Prostitution in Bangladesh - Contradictions in Law and Practice". Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  12. ^ "HIV and AIDS in South Asia". The World Bank. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  13. ^ "Bangladesh - HIV/AIDS". World Health organization - Bangladesh. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 

External links[edit]