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Dhaka Tribune

Daulatdia: Sex workers living in severe hardship as number of clients drop

  • Number of clients dwindling since Padma Bridge opening
  • Sex workers above 50 worst sufferers 
  • They demand for rehabilitation
Update : 30 Sep 2023, 11:27 PM

Sex workers at the country’s largest brothel in Daulatdia village in Rajbari are in financial trouble with the number of customers keep dropping. 

Daulatdia, known as one of the largest brothels in the world, was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Before it could overcome that crisis, the opening of the Padma Bridge added new challenges to their lives as fewer and fewer people have been buying their service since then.

Now it has become tough for them to survive their life at the brothel, which is right next to the Daulatdia ferry terminal.

Earning a livelihood has become difficult for them, and women in their fifties are suffering the most.

These women now want to leave the brothel after the huge setbacks.

According to sources, about 5,000 people live there, and of them 1,300 are sex workers. Among them 1,050 sex workers provide their services regularly. There are about 300 houses. The number of children living in the village is 600, and there are also 350 elderly women.

On a recent visit to the brothel, this correspondent saw that the place was not as crowded as it used to be just a few years ago – the main street which used to be bustling seemed almost deserted.

Women were standing next to their homes in the hope of customers. 

Several sex workers told Dhaka Tribune that the number of customers is not as high as before.

Fatima, a sex worker, could not recall the date of her arrival in Daulatdia. “I only can remember that I came here on the day former president Ziaur Rahman was killed. My house is in Jhenaidah… I have children. They live far away from this world. I am alone in this village. I am over 50 years old. I work in people's homes inside the village to survive. There is no work here… We want to leave this place.”

Another sex worker, Chanda, 57, said they are going through a difficult phase. “People have not been coming to the Daulatdia terminal since the opening of the Padma Bridge. 

“We want to leave, but we have nowhere to go. If the government ensures our rehabilitation, perhaps we will be able to survive,” she said. 

Another sex worker, who did not give her name, said: “The times were good when there was traffic at the terminal on a regular basis. A huge number of customers used to come to our village. But now no one cares about us.”

“We do not want to stay here anymore. We would have left this place already if the government had arranged a shelter for us.”

In the village, there is an organization named Helpless Women's Unity Organization. 

Jhumur Begum, president of the organization, said there are 350 elderly women in the village, who are suffering from food shortages. “They want to leave now.” 

Goalondo Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Zakir Hossain came here to prepare a list of those above 50 years of age, she said. 

UNO Zakir Hossain said since the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, the scenario of the village has changed. 

“I went there to observe their condition. Everyone in the village is part of our society. A number of organizations are operating there. I have given instructions to prepare a list of women over 50,” said the UNO. 

“We will think about how to rehabilitate them,” he added.

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