Having been forcibly evicted on the night of July 12, more than 600 sex workers of Kandapara brothel in Tangail are in double trouble. They have nowhere to go and they have lost their income.
Many have taken shelter in the street of Tangail sadar, others are working as floating sex workers.
But Tangail municipal mayor Shahidur Rahman Khan Mukti, the man accused of driving them out of the brothel, has come up with a most peculiar theory. According to him, these women left the brothel because they perhaps decided to quit the work.
Locals said Shahidur and his men forced the sex workers out to grab the land of the brothel and its adjacent areas.
One of the evicted sex workers is 25-year-old Punnyo (not her real name). She said she took shelter in the street of Tangail sadar along with some 1500 brothel residents, including children, aged sex workers and middlemen.
She claimed she was sold to a sex trader in Kandapara by her lover, who betrayed her trust, a few years ago.
“Inside the brothel, customers had to pay and I had some kind of guarantee. But now, heroin addicts attack me on the street, force me to have sex and leave without paying.” Akhteruzzaman, director of Population Service and Training Centre, an NGO implementing the health ministry’s national HIV-AIDs prevention programme in 12 brothels of the country, said such unplanned eviction of the sex workers posed a great risk.
“We used to supply every active sex workers with condoms for free,” he said. “Sex workers are at the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and we used to give them two strong antibiotics every three months as per the WHO and health ministry’s guidelines.”
Both the programmes have been hampered, he said, adding, “How can we locate them now?”
Akhteruzzaman cited a study by ICDDR, B that shows floating sex workers are at higher risk of HIV-AIDs and STDs than those in brothels.