Prostitution in Bangladesh

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Prostitution in Bangladesh is legal,[1] however in recent years it has decreased.[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:


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

There are 20 brothel-villages in the country where prostitution is legal. The largest is Daulatdia which has about 1,300 sex workers, it is one of the largest brothels in the world.[4][5][6]

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.[7]

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.[8][9]

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.[7]

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.[10][11]

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.[12]

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,[13] which comprises 40 organizations, is working on this issue.[14]


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.[15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bangladesh says prostitution legal". BBC News. 2000-03-14. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  2. ^ . BBC News. 2012-03-14 Retrieved 2015-06-23.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d "2008 Human Rights Report: Bangladesh". Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  4. ^ Claudia Hammond (9 January 2008). "'I'm just here for survival'". The Guardian. Retrieved February 5, 2015. 
  5. ^ Christine Jackman (October 26, 2013). "Daughters of the brothel". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved February 5, 2015. 
  6. ^ Tania Rashid (4 February 2014). "Sex, Slavery, and Drugs in Bangladesh". Vice News. Retrieved February 5, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial sexual exploitation of children: Bangladesh" (PDF). ECPAT International. 2006. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  8. ^ "Bangladesh's Child Sex Workers: No Place To Go". 2002-11-27. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  9. ^ "Child Prostitution: The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children". 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  10. ^ "A new danger for sex workers in Bangladesh". The Guardian. 5 April 2010. 
  11. ^ "Bangladesh's dark brothel steroid secret". BBC News. 30 May 2010. 
  12. ^ "Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation - Bangladesh". Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  13. ^ "Coalition Against Trafficking in Women". Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  14. ^ Sigma Huda (1999-01-29). "Trafficking and Prostitution in Bangladesh - Contradictions in Law and Practice". Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  15. ^ "HIV and AIDS in South Asia". The World Bank. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  16. ^ "Bangladesh - HIV/AIDS". World Health organization - Bangladesh. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 

External links[edit]