A brothel village: The legal red-light district in Bangladesh

By Nylah Salam
August 22 2020, 15.00

Bangladesh is one of the few Muslim countries where prostitution is legal, however it is not seen as a reputable profession in Bangladeshi society. 

Daulatdia, located in the Rajbari District of central Bangladesh has the largest brothel in Asia and is often referred to as the ‘brothel village’. 

Laila Ahmad, 34, (not her real name), was a sex worker there.

She said: “I felt very uncomfortable, with long days my body would ache but it’s something you have to get on with especially feeding a family of three it’s not easy.”

Laila migrated from Bangladesh after three years of working the streets in Daulatdia. On arrival to the UK, she went straight into what she only knew best. 

However, this was not what she wanted her career to entail, even in Bangladesh where she had no option, to feed her family and be the breadwinner.

Statistics from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reveal that more than 20,000 children are born and live in the red-light zones in Bangladesh. The girls are known as the daughters of prostitution who may continue their mothers’ professions from around the age of 12, whereas the boys grow up to become pimps. 

Girls are usually sold on to brothels for a duration of time which can last for up to two or three years for sex work. After making the profits, she would return home and then be sold again to another brothel. 

Research by Reuters has found that many of the women take a steroid drug known as Dexamethasone which helps them gain weight in order to attract male clients. By consuming this, they are seen as physically appealing and are more likely to obtain more customers, thus generating an increased profit. 

Although there are fatal side effects to this drug where in the long term it can result in bone loss, muscle weakness and cataract, the risk does not phase these women from sex work.

Featured image credit: “Bangladesh’s Biggest Brothel” – Al Jazeera News.

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