Bangladesh is one of the few Muslim countries where prostitution is legal. The Kandapara brothel in Tangail is the oldest and one of the largest, it has existed for some 200 years. It has been demolished in 2014 but has been established again with the help of local NGOs. Here live and work more than 700 sex workers with their children and their madams.
Many of the women were born in the brothel, are sold by family members or have fled their husbands and secure in this way their livelihood. Officially, they must be 18 years old, but most of them are underage.
Their customers are police men, politics, farmers, fishermen, factory workers, groups of teenage boys. Some are looking just for sex, but some also for love and company of a woman. In Bangladesh a young man has no chance to go hand in hand with his girl friend public area and can not have sex before marriage. If he goes to a brothel, he finds a moral free environment.
The brothel district is surrounded by a two meter wall. In the narrow streets there are food stalls, tee shops and street vendors. The brothel is a place with its own rules and hierarchies which are often completely different from the mainstream society.Although prostitution is legal in Bangladesh since 2000, the women are socially stigmatized and tolerated only in these brothel areas.
On the one hand these women are needed so much, but on the other hand they are not treated like normal citizens, they have no freedom of movement. Recognizing the existence of sex workers is the first step to ensure that they have a right to live a normal life as any other human beeing.