violent eviction of Bangladesh sex workers-July 26 article

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Subject: violent eviction of Bangladesh sex workers-July 26 article
From: A. Jordan (annj@hrlawgroup.org)
Date: Wed Jul 28 1999 - 09:56:20 EDT


     I encourage everyone to write a protest. You can contact the Prime
Minister and the Embasssy in the US to protest the government's violence
against sex workers. Or you can contact the Embassy in your own country -
http://members.tripod.com/~rehansyed/mission.htm. Prime Minister Mrs.
Sheikh Hasina
Old Sanzsad Bhaban
Dezzaon
Dhaka
Bangladesh and Embassy of The People's Republic of Bangladesh His
Excellency Ambassador K.M. Shehabuddin 2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Suite
300
Washington, D.C. 20007, U.S.A.
Tel: (202) 342-8372 to 8376
 e-mail: BanglaEmb@aol.com
 ====================================================== The Daily Star
(Bangladesh) Volume 2 Number 332 Mon. July
26, 1999 Tanbazar eviction termed
illegal
                        Sex workers plan to go to court
                                 By Staff Correspondent The
Tanbazar Movement Solidarity Council said yesterday they would go to
              court to challenge the 'illegal eviction' of sex workers from
Tanbazar and
              Nimtoli brothels at Narayanganj on Saturday.
"We are planning to legally challenge the illegal eviction within a couple
of
              days as the authorities had no court order as required for
eviction,"
              Advocate Alina Khan said at a press conference in the city.
                Speaking on behalf of the Council, she termed the 'forcible
eviction' illegal
              and state-sponsored terrorism and condemned the 'assault ' on
sex workers
              during the eviction. The press conference was
organised by 52 human and women's rights
              organisations that formed the Council recently. It is
protesting the way the
              government is going ahead with its "rehabilitation plan" for
the sex workers
              and is trying to realise their demands.
Putting forward a four-point demnad, Convenor of the Council Mahbuba
              Mahmud said the government has violated human rights and
fundamental
              rights of sex workers. She alleged that
Sathi, a leader of sex workers, was 'hijacked' during the
              eviction. The Council leader said that the
government must take the opinion of sex
              workers before going for any plan for rehabilitation."The
present
              government seems to have no specific plan."
At the press conference, Sathi's mother who was present at Tanbazar when
              police forcibly picked up her daughter expressed her concern
that Sathi was
              still untraced. Sex workers'demands include
bringing back the evicted inmates to their
              respective brothels, payment of compensation to them, removal
of the DG
              of Directorate of Social Welfare, action against the OC of
Narayanganj
              thana for 'negligence of duty' and rehabilitation of sex
workers as per the
              plan given by them. They have suggested
'social rehabilitation' and allowing them to stay at the
              brothels till their rehabilitation. Among
others, Advocate Habibunnessa, Rashida Hossain and Roslin De
              Costa were present at the press conference.
Meanwhile, Sammilita Nari Samaj (SNS) yesterday termed the eviction of
              sex workers from the Tanbazar and Nimtoli brothels a "blatant
fascist action
              and a serious violation of fundamental human rights".
              In a statement, SNS said "Using a politically motivated
directive >from the
              Prime Minister to 'rehabilitate' the inmates of Tanbazar,
local political
              mastaans and the police have joined hands in this dastardly
act, leaving
              thousands of women and children helpless and on the streets".
                SNS demanded an immediate inquiry into the incident, safety
of all sex
              workers 'missing' since Saturday's eviction and compensation
at least Tk
              one lakh each to those evicted.
   Editorial Page
 Eviction Folly The pre-dawn swoop Saturday on Nimtali and
Tanbazar brothels in
              Narayanganj to round up the inmates for a trip to the
government's vagrant
              homes at Kashimpur and Pubail in Gazipur, for the very nature
of it, appears
              to have done the rehabilitation programme more harm than
good. The raid
              carried out almost in the likeness of the combing operation
to nab terrorists
              seems only to have succeeded in intensifying fears among
sex-workers of
              the wrath of the authority instead of inspiring in them any
desire to be
              integrated in the mainstream of the society. The result:
nearly 600 prostitutes
              joined the already 'outlawed' 2,400 who had left the brothels
following the
              murder of Jasmine, one of their fellow inmates, on July 1. On
the whole, in
              the name of rehabilitation, the government has successfully
dispersed
              thousands of sex workers in the localities, thereby exposing
the residents to
             a number of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including
AIDS of which
              many a prostitute has been identified as a potential carrier.
                The way the government has so far gone about the task does
not even
              remotely accommodate the sex-workers' right to make a choice
between
              rehabilitation and continuation of the trade they are
currently in. On the
              contrary, it can safely be called an arbitrary attempt to
impose a rather
              regimented lifestyle on a group of people-the government
'considers'-in need
              of immediate rehabilitation. As usual, the government agency
concerned-in
              this case, the Social Services Department-has its reason:
some 698 sex
              workers from the two brothels have applied to be
rehabilitated. Nearly two
              crore taka has already been allocated for a country-wide
UNDP-assisted
              rehabilitation scheme. More is in the offing, so suggested
state ministers for
              social welfare, children and women's affairs, and youth,
sports and cultural
              affairs in their speeches at different public meetings,
according to an
              influential Bangla news daily. However, the plan, noble
though, has come
              unstuck at the implementation level, revealing thereby its
in-built inadequacy.
              The planners appear to have failed to envision the possible
fall-outs the drive
              may lead to. The government itself, through
its precipitous action, has let the situation go
              out of control. It has, knowingly or unknowingly, given
weight to
              wide-spread suspicion over an ulterior political motive
behind the whole
              exercise. Besides, by spreading around the sex workers, it
has only
              augmented the bleak prospect of a major health emergency. We
reiterate
              our position on this issue and urge the government to let go
of the sex
              workers until such time as it comes up with a fool-proof plan
in this regard.
   Ann Jordan
Director, Initiative Against Trafficking in Persons
International Human Rights Law Group
1200 18th St., NW
Washington, DC 20036
P:202-822-4600
F:202-822-4606
www.hrlawgroup.org


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