• Tuesday, Jun 22, 2021
  • Last Update : 11:57 pm

Time to end the stigma

  • Published at 11:47 pm February 13th, 2020
Bangladeshi sex worker
Photo: AFP

Sex workers, just like anyone else, should not only be granted their basic human rights, but also be given access to legal services

Due to the widespread view in society as prostitution being immoral, for the longest time, sex workers in this country did not get proper burials. Their bodies would be thrown into the water, or unceremoniously dumped into unmarked graves.

But a breakthrough has happened recently, which is nothing if not a step towards progress. Hamida Begum, a sex worker from Daulatdia, the country’s largest brothel, was given a proper Islamic burial, with many in attendance to bid farewell to the 65-year-old.

This moment is important because it gives due dignity to a human being, regardless of her profession. 

Sex workers, just like anyone else, should not only be granted their basic human rights, but also be given access to legal services, and should be able to live a life without shame or stigma.

At the heart of the issue are the moralistic attitudes that ostracize them from mainstream society, and force their existence into the margins, where they are not only deprived of various services, but must raise children in that very same atmosphere.

No wonder children born into brothels see themselves as having little or no mobility in society, and think of themselves as deserving less.

Ultimately, a society is judged by the dignity it can grant to groups and professions that have normally been branded as immoral. Given the extremely high volume of clientele the prostitution industry gets in Bangladesh, it is clearly rather hypocritical to point fingers at those who make their living through sex work, while their customers are not seen as impure or immoral.

These are all backward attitudes that need to be put to pasture. An enlightened society treats all its citizens with dignity, and sex workers are deserving or nothing less.

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