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Dhaka Tribune

Raids to stop prostitution an ‘eyewash’

Update : 10 Jul 2013, 05:51 AM

Almost all residential hotels in Gazipur allegedly run illegal prostitution rackets with the support of law enforcers who, according to locals, conduct raids at these establishments only as an “eyewash.” Meanwhile, a recent intelligence report has termed the activity as a key cause behind the rise of crime in the area. 

Local sources have said there are around 30 residential hotels but most are not accommodated well for residing in as they harbour such activities. Many of the renowned residential hotels in the area like Hotel Isha Khan, Rajmoni, New Rajmoni, Sobuj Bangla and Hotel Gazipur are popular prostitute homes.

Abul Hasanat, a teacher of Chhoto Dewra School who lives beside the Rice Research Institute, told the Dhaka Tribune: “It is a shame that such unsocial activities run unabated in Gazipur.”

A resident and CNG-run auto rickshaw driver, Imran Hossain, said: “Seats are found vacant in most hotels all the time, as there are no boarders, and customers only rent out rooms for an hour or two.”

A local, requesting anonymity, said: “Even though the law enforcers conduct regular raids at these hotels, prostitution is not stopping. The drives are only eyewashes and if the business is not stopped soon, it might become impossible to regain in law and order in the future.”

However, Superintendent of Gazipur Police Abdul Baten denied the allegation. “We conduct such drives based on tip-offs, arrest the people involved and take legal actions against them.”

Makbul Hossain, manager of Sobuj Bangla Hotel – allegedly one of the major prostitution hubs – denied engaging in the illegal business outright. However, he admitted some other hotels do operate such rackets. “The owners need the money as there are not many boarders throughout the year, since most of them go to Dhaka, as it is close to Gazipur.”

An intelligence report prepared jointly by two law enforcement agencies for the recently conducted Gazipur City Corporation election admitted that such rackets exist in the city hotels and that prostitution was a major cause behind the fall in law and order in the metropolitan area. It also said in the last six months, a total of 24 cases of killings, five cases of abduction, 11 cases under the the Speedy Trial Act and eight under the Arms Act were filed with the police of Gazipur city.

As Gazipur is the home to many industries and garment factories, hotel owners can easily get people willing to serve as prostitutes due to the concentration of low-income population in the area.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Manjur Morshed, who is currently on deputation in the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab 1), told the Dhaka Tribune: “The present political unrest is a key reason why such rackets are on the rise, as political turmoil is keeping law enforcers occupied.”

However, the official denied to comment on the involvement of law enforcers in the racket. “Our activities on this matter are in progress and we often conduct raids at the hubs based on tip-offs and arrest those involved.”

A Dhaka Tribune investigation found that not only the residential hotels of the city, but also most of the resorts established along the Dhaka-Mymensingh highway and the bungalows inside the Gazipur National Forest are also involved in such businesses.

The National Forest also has about 20 open-air spots where such activities are carried out under the noses of security officials and law enforcers. Usually, pimps standing at the third and fourth gates of the reserve forest pick up interested individuals and take them to the prostitutes at the spot.

One of them, requesting anonymity, told the Dhaka Tribune that they recruit women from nearby villages and workers of garment factories. The recruits usually have very low incomes and need the extra money to run their households. 

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