Shahnaz Khatun not her real name , a former sex worker now running a small clothing business in Dhaka, Bangladesh, found herself in difficulties when the country went into lockdown. As a result of the COVID pandemic, sex workers in Bangladesh, like other informal sector workers, are experiencing hardship and a loss of income. With the limited support that some of them get, they can barely feed themselves and their children. Only a few of them have savings to fall back on and little access to services that could bring some relief. Conditions are more vulnerable for street-based sex workers, as most of them are homeless.
Bangladeshi sex worker′s honorable funeral hailed as a landmark | News | DW |
Coronavirus is changing the world in unprecedented ways. DHAKA, June 26 Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thousands of sex workers in Bangladesh are going hungry and many face abuse because they are unable to pay their brokers due to the coronavirus pandemic, charities working with them have warned. Bangladesh is home to about , sex workers and charities estimate that seven out of 10 are struggling to survive, three months after the country shut down to stop the spread of the virus. Although sex work is legal in Bangladesh, the vast majority operate outside registered brothels, on the streets or in private residences, according to the United Nations, meaning they have little protection from abusers. KSM Tarique, deputy chief executive of the charity Lighthouse, which helps sex workers access healthcare and education for their children, said most were now having to skip meals and complaints of violence or harassment had surged. But in certain weeks in May we got more than complaints from workers," he said. Rina Akter, a former sex worker who now campaigns for their rights, said at least 35 out of about women she surveyed in Dhaka reported being beaten, either by a pimps or a stranger.
In a first, Bangladeshi sex worker gets honourable funeral
Most of them live hand-to-mouth existences, with about one in nine having the ability to save up and feed themselves. Sex workers from one of the world's largest brothels appealed to the Bangladesh government on Monday for emergency funding after a ban on customers to prevent the spread of coronavirus. More than 1, sex workers are based at the Daulatdia brothel, about km 60 miles west of capital Dhaka, which is one of about 12 officially sanctioned brothels in the South Asian country, and receives an estimated 5, customers every day. Government official Rubayet Hayat, executive officer of the sub-district of Goalanda where the brothel is located, said the aid was expected to arrive late this week.
Hamida Begum became the first sex worker from a brothel in Daulatdia to receive a formal Islamic funeral, breaking a longstanding taboo in Muslim majority Bangladesh where prostitution is legal but regarded by many as immoral. Scores of women gathered at the graveside, weeping for the year-old's passing but also because of the symbolic breakthrough her burial represented. Islamic spiritual leaders have for decades rejected funeral prayers for sex workers because they view prostitution as immoral.