urge parliamentary scrutiny of the state within a state of the Khakis, especially the dreaded spy agency (DGFI). The interference of the Khakis into state politics will once again jeopardize institutionalization of elective democracy, good governance and secularism. The rogues fear social justice activists, critics, politicians and journalists too - Joy Manush!
Friday, August 03, 2012
150-year-old Bangladesh brothel fights closure
Photo: Sex worker at Madaripur brothel is told by Muslim bigots that "It's shameful work. It is not a profession" A
150 year old brothel in Bangladesh
founded for jute traders during the British colonial era is facing closure
following protests by Islamic groups. Some sex workers allege that the reason
behind the protests is the ambitions of a prominent Muslim family who are
erecting a multi-storied building next to the brothel.
Tara Das says she is the fifth generation of her family to work at the
same brothel in Bangladesh,
but now she is fighting against Islamic protesters who want her business to
The red light district in
Madaripur city is thought to have been in operation for at least 150 years, and
the sex workers believe the sudden wave of protests are orchestrated by
developers trying to take over the valuable land.
month, about 10,000 people led by a new Muslim group called Islahe Kaom
Parishad (the National Reform Council) rallied outside the rambling complex to
call for it to be shut down and the 500 sex workers evicted.
since they held that huge rally, I could not sleep properly. Tell me where I
shall go?" Das told AFP. "This is my home and this is the only job I
knew from my childhood. Please save us from these religious leaders."
brothel, founded for native jute traders during the British colonial era, is a
cluster of moss-stained three-storey brick houses and tin sheds in the middle
of Madaripur, 60 kilometres (40 miles) from Dhaka.
told the authorities that we won't leave the place. Our job is lawful. We also
don't have any underage sex workers here," said Momo Rani Karmakar, head
of the Madaripur sex workers' union.
inherited the place from our grandmothers, some of them are still alive. We are
like a family here.
a conspiracy to grab our land worth crores of taka (millions of dollars),"
she said, adding that 110 children living in the brothel settlement go to
school every day.
the protests started, police now patrol the area while government officials say
any final decision on redevelopment is still pending.
committee, led by the regional deputy administrator, has been set up and has
tried to open talks to encourage rehabilitation of the sex workers.
and local elites don't want this centuries-old brothel in the town anymore.
They said it might have served some purposes decades back, but it's not
needed," Siddiqur Rahman, the committee head, told AFP.
said the authorities would start the rehabilitation process by conducting a
survey to determine the number of under-aged sex workers.
sex workers will be motivated to take up other jobs," he said. "It
will be done strictly on voluntary basis. A local charity will be involved."
the sex workers told AFP that they don't want to leave or switch to other jobs.
Many told how they previously left the trade but had been hounded out of other
I don't have clients, how can I feed my five children and maintain their
education," said Jhumur, 45, who uses only one name. "They want to
keep us hungry and force us out so that they can take our land.
clients are worried that they might be publicly humiliated. Clients have
already got the impression that the brothel is on the verge of closure."
sex workers allege that the real reason behind the protests is the ambitions of
a prominent Muslim family who are already erecting a multi-storied building
next to the brothel.
Parishad group deny such claims and say they are acting to protect Islamic
brothel is the main source of criminal activity in the region," group
secretary Ali Ahmed Chowdhury told AFP. "It runs illegal wine shops.
Under-aged girls are bought and sold and it's a big source of the drug trade.
battle against long-established brothels in Bangladesh -- a conservative
Muslim-majority nation -- is spreading, with at least four red light districts
closed in the last decade.
country's largest brothel, Tanbazaar, situated on the outskirts of Dhaka, was shut down largely due to pressure from a
ruling party lawmaker.
established in 1888, was converted into a market and many of the 2,600 sex
workers ended up on the streets.
groups have also threatened to close other brothels across the country,
according the charity ActionAid which provides some advocacy services to those
Madaripur, the sex workers are determined to avoid such a fate.
have told them that unless you shoot us down, you can't throw us out of
here," said Morzina, who lost her husband two years ago and was forced to
return to the brothel to make a living.
will raid the houses of the Muslim leaders if they come here to evict us,"