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Mohammad Khairul Alam

Executive Director

Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation




 Street Sex Workers are Vulnerable HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh



Sexually transmitted diseases/ infections — also known as STDs/STIs and once called venereal diseases — are infectious diseases that spread from person to person through intimate/ sexual contact. There are different kinds of STDs, Some kinds of STDs are very dangerous for human health. It can cause permanent damage, such as infertility (the inability to have a baby) and even death. HIV/AIDS is one of the STDs/STIs that are on the rise in sex workers and Injection Drug Users.


Sex work is central to an epidemic that is primarily spread by unprotected heterosexual intercourse.  It is also a feature of all countries and cultures, encompassing a wide range of people and behaviours. Sex work can involve men and transgender people, as well as women.  People who are engaged in selling sex obviously have multiple sex partners and are therefore highly vulnerable to several Sexual Transmission Diseases (STDs/STI) and HIV/AIDS infection.  Because they have many sexual partners, they are also more likely to transmit the virus to other people unless condoms are always used. As mentioned by AIDS researcher Mr. Anirudha Alam, “Street Sex Workers contracting HIV/AIDS through unprotected sex with HIV infected men and sexual abuse has become a persistent problem, especially in South Asia”.


Bangladesh is still a low prevalence country (HIV-infection rate is less than 1%), but there is a potential for expanding HIV/AIDS epidemic in the future, because the country is very receptive to HIV infection. Sex work exists at significant levels in Bangladesh, and condom use is low. In Bangladesh, sex workers in brothels as well as on the streets reported rather high client turnover, by Asian standards. Women working in brothels nationwide averaged 19 clients a week, and street workers reported between 12 and 16 in different cities. Consistent condom use is among the lowest in the region.


Street Sex Workers (SSWs) in Bangladesh would play a critical role of HIV/AIDS infections. Due to the types of their work, the lack of sexually transmitted infections (STI/STDs) knowledge and low acceptance of condom use, SSWs represent a highly vulnerable group in Bangladesh. The sharp rise in others sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Bangladesh contributes to the spread of HIV and may lead to a extensive epidemic, as the heterosexual mode of others STI transmission accounts for an increasing percentage of HIV transmission. Studies of street beggars conducted by Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation & L.R.B Foundation in mid-2006s at Kamrangir Char, Lalbagh and Polashi in Dhaka city in Bangladesh surveyors confirm the 40-45 per cent of homeless beggars (adult male) indulge in multi-partner sex with less than 10 per cent of them reporting condom use. Street Sex Workers are the main sexual partners of them.


Street Sex Workers are closely associated with the tourism and transport industries where they find a large supply of potential clients. They get their clients by waiting on the streets. Most of them run on their work separately, though some rely on brokers for help in getting clients. The favored method of work is to wait on busy streets, which make available custom as well as relative confidentiality to the contract, as opposed to the less frequented localities. Bus stops, railway stations, cinema halls and river-bank are the usual locations where the contract is negotiated, from where they go to cheap hotels, under constriction building, darkness park-place and lodges with their clients.


Day by day, Sex work is increase in Bangladesh. However Ms. Roushan Ara Rekha, Executive Director of GHARONI, an expert in the field, she said, ‘On a regional basis, infected men probably outnumber infected women by a factor of 3 to 1 or more, since commercial sex clients, injecting drug users and men having sex with men have contributed most strongly to the rapid initial growth of the epidemic. This male/female ratio is expected to drop as the epidemic spreads into the general population through spread of HIV from clients of sex workers to their regular partners and spouses.’


M. C. M. Lokman Hossain, Executive Director of Association for Social Advancement & Rural Rehabilitation (ASARR) said, if we want to reduce sex trade we have to clarify our vision on sex work first. Traditional perspectives on prostitution have been repressive, moralising and controlling, perceiving sex workers and their customers to be objects rather than active subjects, excluding them from discussions and decisions around policy and legislation.



Reference: GHARONI report, ASARR report, Sex work network



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    AIDS, HIV, Gender, discrimination, empowerment, Sex worker, Female, Commercial, Floating, Street, Girls, Women, Lesbian, Gay, Homo, Sexuality, CSWs, FSWs, SWs, Injectable, Injection, User, Condom, Bangladesh, Dhaka, Mohammad Khairul Alam, Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation