workers deserve better deal from society
She has been a sex worker for several years. At 16 she still
carries with her the childhood dream: to become a doctor or a social
worker. Forced into the profession and never easy in it, the young woman
yearns to quit, but finds no way out. So she continues and dreams of
her favourite dream. Years ago when she was a schoolgirl she was abducted
by a man whose marriage proposal she turned down. Her abductor raped
her before leaving her on the street. She was afraid of returning home
and instead travelled to Dhaka city where she took her first job: a
wanted to forget all that had happened to me," says she. "But
bad luck was not ready to leave me alone." A new attack came from
the head of the family where she worked as a maid. She fled to another
house and took another job at a garment factory where she was allegedly
raped by her employer.
is the harrowing tale of my becoming a sex worker. I'm here for the
rest of my life. There is no escape," whispers the woman who wished
to be anonymous. She has spoken for most of the sex workers in Bangladesh.
Not many of them have come willingly.
deception and sexual attacks often force many helpless women to this
hated profession. Once they are into it many try to defend their work.
They want to add some level of acceptance to it. Consider how Safia
-- not her real name -- how she looks at her profession.
I was starving and passed day after day in hunger there was no one in
the society to help me. I had to accept this work to survive,"
shouted she. "Who are our customers? Most of them are married and
some are educated. Leaving their wives they come to us and enjoy us.
If our clients still remain gentlemen why they call us fallen women?"
are not fallen women. We are also human beings living off working like
the normal people do," she insists.
Roekya Kabir, Executive Director of Pragati Nari Sangha: ``First of
all we don't want to see any woman in this work. But once they are into
it they should not be deprived of their human rights. We must accept
the fact that poverty has forced these women to take up this work as
a profession. They have also every right to carry on with their lives."
argues that mere eviction of the sex workers would not solve the problem.
Instead, they should be provided with skill training so they can find
who oppose eviction of sex workers from brothels do not necessarily
support their profession. What they want is that all concerned should
consider their profession with sympathy and compassion. Their work does
not necessarily mean that they should be exploited by all and sundry.
sex workers, especially the street hookers, have many complaints. They
say that there are men who will enjoy in a group of four and five and
then will refuse to pay. They say many policemen harass them and force
them to pay money. One sex worker claims that they donate money to build
places of worship. "If they accept pour donation why we are so
workers also demand that the government should recognise their work
as legal. Salma Ali, Executive Director of Jatiya Mohila Ainjibi Samity,
however, has a different opinion. She argues legalising the profession
will encourage more poor women to come to it and it will lead to more
trafficking of women and children. ``What, however, is needed is to
create alternative jobs for the sex workers," she says.