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smokers, hotel, brothel, street based commercial sex workers, casual sex
workers, so called sex workers, violence, exploitation, Rainbow Nari O
Shishu Kallyan Foundation, Mohammad Khairul Alam
Rainbow Nari O
Shishu Kallyan Foundation
Commercial Sex Trade
in Dhaka City
Lately, prompted by
the concern over the spread of HIV/AIDS, commercial sex workers have been
the focus of a great deal of attention, first and foremost with the aim of
promoting safe sex as a method of preventing disease. Even with the many
groups active among sex workers, and despite the government’s obvious
interest in the matter, there has been no correct consideration of the total
number of people practicing the profession in
estimates propose that there are well over half million sex workers in the
country, with the district of Dhaka, Chitagong,
and Shilet being considered “vulnerable zones of HIV/AIDS”.
If matters related to
the safety of sex work and the rights of sex workers are to be addressed, it
is significant first to recognize the extent of the industry, its demography
as well as the conditions of work. One of the most systematic and coherent
studies of the industry was recently carried out in
a city of about eight million people.
Dhaka has a
traditional profile different from other district. But as the HIV figures
suggest, and as the survey confirms, the traditional image is only a veneer
behind which lurk many secret dealings. The survey conducted by Rainbow Nari
O Shishu Kallyan Foundation has been working with sex workers and the gay
community in Dhaka for close to 1 years, estimates that there are over five
thousand commercial sex-workers in Dhaka. The Join survey actually maps 3000
of these sex workers in the city area.
This hidden business
continues by four element sex workers, clients, brokers and broker’s
agencies. The Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation and other jointly
survey focuses on the attitude, behavior and practice of Commercial Sex
Workers (CSWs) in
Dhaka and classifies
them into four categories. They are the Residence Sex Workers (RSWs), Street
Sex Worker (SSWs), Hotel Sex Workers (HSWs) and Mobile Sex Workers (MSWs).
Another two categories is also found such as Call Girls or Society Call
Girls (who typically have a higher socio-economic profile and provide
services to wealthier clients), this type is come out of Hotel (HSWs) &
Mobile Sex Workers MSWs). And other type is Floating Sex Workers, who is
also a mix group; it is a sub group of Street Sex Workers (SSWs) and Mobile
Sex Workers (MSWs). On the other hand we can say all type Sex Worker in
Dhaka City is Mobile Sex Workers without Residence Sex Workers.
Usually Sex trade is
not legal in
Dhaka City. There is no any reported brothel now. A famous brothel was in
central and another brothel was near the city at Narayangonj. About 6000 to
7000 thousand sex workers lived in there. After withdrawal these brothel
most of the prostitutes did not get any rehabilitation facilities and a
large number of them are still continuing sex trade involving with residence
and hotel in Dhaka city, Of the total sample of 3000 Sex Workers, 2000
belong to the Residence category. This category lives in residential areas
and operates from their homes often without the knowledge of anyone,
including their neighbors. Run by aged sex workers, with their own network
of regular clients, new entrants soliciting services come to these family
establishments only through special contacts and they are only allowed
admission after their identity has been fully verified.
The street workers,
who number about 500, are the next largest category. 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, narrow park place and lodges with
The third category is
made up of mobile sex workers (Call Girl), who only number between 100 and
200. They also depend on brokers. Every evening, some one or two girls are
taken out in a rickshaw or a car/cng(baby taxi) by brokers on particular
courses to visit particular points. Typically these girls are sent to the
clients only on the basis of prior appointments. Certain hotels and resorts
in and around the city are closely associated with this arrangement, since
it forms part of their hospitality services. Under this system, the hotels
procure the girls for their customers through brokers who even make
arrangements to transport them if needed. In this category of the
profession, the girls generally have a different profile from those in the
other categories. Most of their clients are short-term business visitors to
the city. Given the nature of their clientele and the locales at which they
provide services they are expected to be nice and well dressed.
Consequently, their rates are higher. Earnings likewise are highly variable.
The highest income earners are those in the mobile category (Call Girl).
The whole sex trade in
Dhaka, it is
said, accompaniments under police protection, without completely surprising
of police CSWs have to face harassment. Owners of brothels that function
openly and street sex workers pay a fixed amount of money to the police to
avoid arrest and harassment.
Although the precarious conditions of the work, the sex occupation continues
to attract a stable stream of adolescent girls. Most join the job because of
poverty and financial obligations, mainly family liability. Often women get
involved with sex trading because of trafficking or marital break-up or they
are forced into it. In fact, as many as a third of the respondent said they
came into the profession because their husbands had abandoned them.
Social-economical security and stability is to bound to do that, other
social factors also have a role to play, as is evident from the fact that 5
percent say they enrolled the trade because their lovers had deserted them.
The most of sex
workers is illiterate, are married, some are bound to do it after
trafficking incident, some have children and are in the 20-35 age group.
Half of the respondents have a single child and rest of them two or three
children or family members to look after.
It is suspected that
large numbers of young and most single female low-paid workers may also
supplement their low wages by occasional sex trading. Such as garment
workers, cleaning workers, domestic servant, hotel workers, slum dwellers,
poor female students, some of the married women living in the community
having their husband living abroad for long time.