Travels

Prostitution in Bangladesh: when the seller is the merchandise

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Photographs of activities for sex workers in the SJA of Dhaka

The story of Sonia begins in the clouds when she falls in love with her cousin, continues in the mud, when he sells it to another man for money, and descends to hell, when he arrives in Chittagong to practice prostitution.

Survival is equivalent to many women - widows, repudiated by the husband, sold or, simply poor - to have to sell their body in order to eat and in most cases feed your children, of which they are the only sustenance. The stomach that protests does not understand values, morals or self-esteem.

A customer who wants to use them will pay 20 to 30 takas - 20 or 30 euro cents - for the meat of the most disadvantaged, those who live in shacks and ghettos. If you choose to raise the budget, from 300 takas, about 3 euros, you can access a woman less marked by misery. From there, the figure rises in inverse proportion to the age of the woman or adolescent and its ability to sell as a product.

Minors, in a country where there are weddings - illegal, yes - of fifteen-year-old girls, get the best prices, but when they sell and use them they don't see the money. Only if they manage it because they have run away from home, something reaches their pockets. In the other cases, it is the protector, the pimp, who takes the takas.

Sex workers in the SJA of Dhaka

Most of the slice is for people who have very clean hands in public. It is estimated that among police officers - not all, of course - of Chittagong, the second largest city in Bangladesh, a total of 1.00 takas are distributed per month to turn a blind eye.

The money also irrigates certain local leaders, officials and politicians. The hotel owners, the place where the body transaction for money is consumed, are the first contributors to that cash rain. They are also the ones that do the best business. Barely 50 takas, about 50 cents, is what the woman who appears with the client stays. The rest goes to the current account of the owner of the establishment.

The older they get, the more traces their job has left on their body and the harder it is for them to exercise it. So prices go down, scruples disappear and the ghost of HIV reappears and other sexually transmitted diseases by not using a condom. Ignorance among the youngest who practice intercourse without a condom; need, mortgaging survival even more, among those who double their age.

There is a select minority, because everywhere there are people with better fortune, even among the disinherited, who have a high cache and the takas account in thousands per customer. Same body surrender, different quality of performance, and more money to look in the mirror.

For many bundles of bills that are obtained, not all stigmas can be washed. Women who engage in prostitution have to hide it from their neighbors or run the risk of being marginalized, even more, and even of being evicted by their landlords. In a country where looms work 24 hours a day, working in a textile factory is the alibi that they use to cover their schedules and absences.

SJA offices in Dhaka

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