Subject: News/ Bangladesh: Bangladeshi sex workers eviction July 23-25 articles
From: A. Jordan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Jul 28 1999 - 09:56:13 EDT
July 25, 1999
Sex workers evicted
From Ehsanul Haque
NARAYANGANJ, July 24: In a pre-dawn swoop today, police evicted
sex workers from Tanbazar and Nimtoli brothels in the town.
Authorities said in the evening that they took 267 of the
government vagrant homes at Kashimpur and Pubail in Gazipur for
But sources in the brothels claimed that police forcibly took
away about 400
sex workers, and about 600 fled away during the swoop.
Some 2400 sex workers earlier left the red-light area as
trouble began in the
brothels since the murder of a sex worker there on July 1 and a
government announcement for their rehabilitation elsewhere.
There were about 3,400 sex workers in the 150-year-old
brothels, according to earlier official estimates.
According to witnesses, some 300 policemen laid a siege around
Tanbazar and Nimtoli brothels at around 4 am. Announcement by
loudspeaker was made calling upon the inmates to come out.
"Come out, buses are ready to take you to the rehabilitation
police announced, one witness told this correspondent.
Unwilling to respond to the call, the sex workers started
defiance. At this stage, police locked the collapsible gates
dragging them into 10 buses, parked near the brothels. Many
evade the police action. They sneaked through windows and other
Shafiul Kabir, a Director of the Social Services Department,
three-hour police drive. The Deputy Commissioner,
Police, a team of magistrates including a female one and
of all the seven police stations in the district also
participated in the
Most of the inmates could not take any of their household
The drive over, hundreds of "mistresses", brokers and pimps of
and shopkeepers at the red-light area came out from hideouts.
with many onlookers, thronged the roads adjacent to the
After the "operation", many sex workers who escaped the
seen coming back to the red-light area and asking police to
allow them to
take away their belongings from the brothels, still cordoned by
But the policemen did not allow them, saying the local
authorities will have
to be sure about the ownership of their property.
Till filing of this report late last night, police were
guarding the 21 buildings at
Tanbazar and Nimtoli brothels. The guards of those buildings
DC of Narayanganj Abdur Rahman was not available for comment.
SP, Sanaul Haq, told The Daily Star that they did not force any
to leave the red-light area. "We took only those who
volunteered to be
rehabilitated. We just cooperated with the people of Social
DG of the Social Service Department Mir Shahabuddin said
was a part of a government plan for rehabilitation of the sex
"Today we found only 267 out of 698 sex workers who earlier
rehabilitation. We'll also take the rest if they come back to
the brothels," he
told The Daily Star.
The DG further said that those taken to the vagrant centres
would be given
counselling for a normal life.
Kohinoor, 30, who escaped from one of the buses that carried
workers from Narayanganj, later told another Star correspondent
that she lost her three children. "I want to get them back,"
Our Staff adds: Various social and human rights organisations
yesterday issued press statements, condemning eviction of sex
Mahbuba Mahmud, Coordinator of a committee of 50 such
a statement alleged that more than 100 sex workers and their
injured during the police action.
Leader of the sex workers, Sathi, was severely beaten up and
missing since the eviction drive, the statement said, and
accused a ruling
party MP of using the Narayanganj district administration for
Meanwhile, Shamim Osman, an AL MP from Narayanganj, hailed the
government action. "Prayers were offered at mosques in the town
closure of the two brothels," Osman later told The Daly Star.
long-felt demand of the people of the town."
Sex workers at Tanbazar, Nimtali: Only
one-fifth of 3400 respond to offer for
From Ehsanul Haque
NARAYANGANJ, July 23: Only about one-fifth of the sex workers
country's biggest brothels --Tanbazar and Nimtoli-- are willing
to return to
normal life under the government's rehabilitation programme.
According to a survey by the Department of Social Services, 698
the two brothels expressed willingness to give up their
profession if the
government rehabilitates them properly.
During the four-day survey that ended on Saturday last,
officials of the
Department found 1,053 inmates at the brothels. But earlier
official and unofficial-- said there were about 3,400 sex
workers at the
A large number of inmates left the brothels following the
killing of an inmate
on July 1 while many others left before the survey began.
Of the 1,053 sex workers who were present during the survey,
expressed their intention to remain in their profession.
The survey followed a government decision to rehabilitate the
who are willing to give up their profession. But no decision
has been taken
as yet as regards those unwilling to return to normal life.
The survey report said about 75 per cent of the interviewed sex
illiterate, 0.7 per cent had passed SSC examinations and the
rest 24.03 per
cent can only write their names. About 450 of them are below 18
do not have any child.
The report revealed that 789 of the inmates took up the
voluntarily, 54 were cheated into it and 78 were sold by pimps
Meanwhile, Director General of social services department Mir
Shahabuddin told The Daily Star that they would launch a
programme tomorrow for those who have not agreed to come under
rehabilitation programme. Those who have agreed would be taken
where the department has a number of projects. Till then they
provided with food at the brothels.
Sex workers slam eviction
Basic rights are the need, they say
By Ehsanul Haque
Sex workers from different parts of the country yesterday
plea to the government not to evict them from brothels in the
Instead, they urged the authorities to take up a programme
ensure education, health and vocational training for the sex
The call came at a rally organised by a coalition of 49
organisations (NGOs), demanding human rights for sex workers of
Tanbazar and Nimtoli brothels and to express solidarity with
The rally organised at Osmany Uddyan in the city yesterday was
by several hundred human rights activists and sex workers from
Tangail, Madaripur, Faridpur, Jessore, Tanbazar and Nimtoli. A
floating sex workers, who were previously inmates of now
Kandupatti brothel also participated in the rally.
The sex workers holding placards read: We do not want eviction
name of rehabilitation, Give security of sex workers, We want
to live in a
peaceful manner etc.
The coalition includes: Naripakha, Coalition for the Urban
Ain-O-Shalish Kendro, Bangladesh Human Rights Co-ordination
Ganosastha Sangstha, Association for Social Advancement (ASA),
for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed, Proshika, VHSS, Bangladesh
Health Coalition (WHC) and Bangladesh Society for Enforcement
Human Rights (BSEHR).
The rally was address by the representative of three
organisations of the sex
workers - Durjoy, Ulka and Mukti Narishangha, Tanbazar brothel
and Children organisation, Human Rights Journalist Association
Co-ordinator on Tanbazar movement' solidarity programme.
Snubbing the rehabilitation plan as a political game, Shathi, a
from Tanbazar questioned, "Why our places should be the first
target of the
proposed rehabilitation programme leaving 12 other such
brothels with 50
thousands inmates across the country."
Expressing deep concern over the failure of the rehabilitation
she said, "under the existing situation of our society the
prostitution could not be stopped through eviction or
they will spread widely in different parts of the country,
problems than the existing one.
Referring to the street urchins who are selling flowers, waters
parts of the city, Sahnaz, president of Durjoy, floating sex
organisation said, "these children are in a vulnerable
situation. They will be
forced to adopt prostitution as profession at any time in order
their daily life".
The authorities should take measures to check poor and under
girls into prostitution instead of evicting the settled sex
workers from their
respective places, Sahnaz said.
"We are not begging on the street, we are earning money through
needed we are ready to pay income tax for our flesh trading",
"Shoot us of give us the right to live we are not doing harm to
She said: "Rehabilitate those men who come to us, we need no
rehabilitation, we want to give better education for our
children as they can
live sophisticated live in future."
Momtaz Begum, a sex worker evicted from the Kandupatti brothel,
people including a section of corrupt so-called social elite
are using us at
night, but in the morning they pretend to be very pious
people", she alleged
adding "the leaders of the society are curbing our freedom and
we are even
deprived of the basic rights to be buried through religious
She said "society will not accept us. What the government will
give us? who
is going to marry us?
She also called for legal action against the pimps, who were
forcing girls to
become a prostitute.
Sex workers urged the Prime Minister to understand their
problem and to
take an effective measures to end the crisis.
Helaluddin, President of Human Rights Council said definitely
there is some
politics behind this eviction.
"Please do not make them scapegoat of politics," he said.
He alleged that the authorities are violating basic human
rights of the inmates
of the red-light areas by putting restriction on their
Helaluddin informed the rally, Hundreds of inmates of the
red-light areas at
Tanbazar and nearby Nimtoli are passing their days in near
fears of eviction. The brothel inmates are running out of money
and short of
necessary resource to ensure two square meals for them along
Mahbuba Begum, leader of the women and children urged the
to take proper steps to rehabilitate the women and their
of Tanbazar and Nimtoli before evicting them
A eight-point demand of the sex workers were raised at the
includes: inclusion of sex workers and human rights
representatives in all
future plan for rehabilitation, withdrawal of all imposition
e.g. deployment of
police at the red-light area, which is like violation of
rights, withdrawal of all imposed government steps including
police deployed at the brothel premises, demanding publication
of a white
paper on the present situation of evicted sex workers of
were uprooted from the brothel three years back, they demanded
educational and health facilities for the children of sex
implementation of previous government pledged to rehabilitate
of sex workers, effective steps to save minor girls have been
passing days in
uncertainty, to take effective measures to save those girls who
forced in prostitution, immediate trial and exemplary
punishment of the
persons responsible for killing of sex worker Farida, Mala and
eliminate all obstacles for burial of sex workers and to ensure
after their death.
Later, a delegation comprises human rights leaders and sex
over a memorandum to the Prime Minister's office to press home
The delegation also submitted copies of the memorandum to Home
Ministry, Ministry of Social Welfare, Youth Sports and Cultural
Women and Children Affairs, ruling party legislator Shamim
Secretary of the Ministry of Social Welfare.
Later, sex workers brought out a procession chanting slogans
eviction move, which paraded different streets and ended at the
Director, Initiative Against Trafficking in Persons
International Human Rights Law Group
1200 18th St., NW
Washington, DC 20036
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