Stigma and Shame
Bangladesh is one of the few Muslim countries in the world where prostitution is legal for women aged 18 or older and workers are required to hold a certificate stating they are adults, and consent to the work.
The reality is more murky, charities have reported finding girls as young as seven being groomed to sell sex, and warn that trafficking of children for the trade is on the rise.
The police are often accused of being complicit — taking bribes from pimps and brothel owners to provide certification for girls much younger than 18.
Begum was just 12 years old when she began sex work in Daulatdia, where more than 1,200 women and girls cater for up to 5,000 clients a day.
The site, one of around 12 legal brothels operating in the country, is a series of shacks spread across a warren of alleyways some 100 kilometers (70 miles) west of Dhaka.
Close to a busy road and rail junction, its frequented by both local and long haul drivers and travellers passing through.
The brothel was established a century ago under British colonial rule, but moved to its current location, near a ferry station, after locals torched the old complex in 1988.
The sex workers and hundreds of their children live in concrete and tin shanties on a sandbank of the river Padma — often paying exorbitant rents to unscrupulous landlords.
For those forced into the trade, they can only leave when they’ve paid off inflated and exorbitant ‘debts’ to the pimps and madams that bought them
Even if this is possible, the stigma surrounding sex work means that many feel there is nowhere else to go.