“I met a boy who sold me in Daulatdia”, says Nazu, a young girl sold to one the largest brothels in Bangladesh, just on the out-skirts of Dhaka for under $60 USD. Nazu now lives with her husband in Dhaka and regularly runs away from home in fear of being beaten.
Daulatdia is one of the largest brothels in Bangladesh, home to more than 2000 sex workers. Lorry drivers, business men and police men are frequent visitors to this growing town, paying up to $5 USD per hour to sleep with young girls. Trafficked from remote areas of Bangladesh, young girls age as a low as 13 years old are enslaved to the biggest economy of this town, sex work. These young girls are encouraged to take drugs to keep up with the demands of their clients and in cases paid extra to take illegal drugs with their clients. Nazu has been using drugs, such as yaba and methamphetamine for a little over a year now, addicted and thrown into a life of petty crime with little hopes of recovery.
“My mother died when I was 9 years old, a boy named Manum influenced me to take it (drugs). I took drugs to forget the loss of my mother” While it is not uncommon to see young girls from Daulatdia hooked on various drugs, little support or services are given for rehabilitation or harm reduction.
HIV Infections among adolescents are on the rise in Bangladesh, and for young girls like Nazu, she is at higher risk of contracting HIV because of sex work and using drugs (with needles). “I don’t know much about HIV/AIDS, I did a blood test two months ago for the first time and I was negative. I heard about the disease from other sex workers”. Depending on the needs of the clients, Nazu was often forced to have sex without a condom. “Sometimes I made my customers wear condoms, but when they complained to my boss (pimp), they would beat me.”
14-year-old Shoshi, is one of many young girls whom share a similar story to Nazu. “My father used to have sex with me and I didn’t understand why. I was very little. Many guys would force me to have sex with them and threatened me if I told anyone.” Shoshi now lives in Dhaka, a child bride living with her husband. Shoshi would visit the [centre] during the day and regularly stroll the streets in the night to earn money. “I don’t like sex but men force me to do it. They do not like using condoms so we never use it.” At 14, Shoshi is one of thousands of young girls that lack knowledge and information about safe sex and is at higher risk of HIV transmission.
Both Nazu and Shoshi take shelter at a local organisation working on issues of young sex workers in the day, where they receive information on SRHR and HIV. The centre in a typical day provides shelter for up to 20 young girls, many of them sex workers and drug users. Knowledge on safe sex, HIV testing and counselling are offered to the girls, and a place of comfort. Changing the realities of the young women from Daulatdia may seem impossible in their eyes, but the young girls of Daulatdia hold onto hope of a brighter future.