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The world’s largest brothel

2000 prostitutes have to solicit clients in Bangladesh’s red light district ++ In BILD they talk about the horror they experience every day ++ It includes torture, kidnappings and human trafficking

Daulatdia – Sahajadi (30) is sitting in front of her shack, as she does every day waiting for a client. “I was born in a terrible place”, she says. This terrible place is called Daulatdia – it is considered the largest brothel in the world.

Sahajadi lives here since birth and sells herself to men, just like her mother did before her. She has gained no other life experience.

Daulatdi is the name of a village in Bangladesh – it has been called the largest brothel in the world. 2000 women sell their bodies in shacks, in an area that is 3.2 square feet large (44 soccer fields). Waste is strewn all around the area, including used condoms, and a sweet, foul smell permeates the air. The only visitors to the village are male customers; 3500 men who come here every day. Most of them are truck drivers on their way to the capital Dhaka which is about 100 km away from the village.

They pay 2 US$ for quick sex and two extra dollars if they get sex without a condom. “We are just having fun”, says one of the men. Sometimes, he says, he does feel sorry for them, “but they have simply chosen the wrong path”.

Studies about sexually transmitted diseases in Daulatdia don’t exist. Neither does medical care. Instead, it is a village filled with suffering, violence and drugs.

Voluptious women and young girls earn more than the others. That’s why many of them take Oradexon, a steroid which is used to fatten cattle. It makes slender women rounder and more voluptious. They take the drug despite possible severe side-effects such as liver failure.

Bangladesh is one of a few muslim countries (83 percent are muslim) that allows prostitution. There are 20 „brothel villages“ distributed throughout the country. These red light district were opened in the 80s to fight against the high rates of rape.

However, what happens here is as criminal as rape: Many girls have been kidnapped on their way to school by human traffickers. Other were dropped off by their own family members and sold to so-called “madams”.

A woman who lives here is worth 110 US$ (9459 BDT), unless she is still a virgin. Then the price increases 20-fold.

Rebaka (28) has been living in the brothel for four or five years. She doesn’t remember exactly. “My husband sold me to a madame”, she says. “They locked me into a room for two months, then I had to wait for clients at the gate.”

Many women tell stories about being abused and tortured after they were brought to the village. This is how their tormentors beat them into submission.

Meanwhile, Rebaka has given birth. The father of the baby is her tormentor. She wants to take her newborn child out of the village as soon as possible. Later on, boys will often turn into human traffickers, while girls suffer a fate far worse than that. They have to sell their bodies at the tender age of 12.

We meet a madame. She is in her mid-fourties and calls herself a “beauty”. She is wearing a light blue sari with gold embroidery and sparkling red earrings. “When the girls arrive here, they need money for rent and food. We give them what they need.” In return, they collect all their revenue.

Why aren’t the women trying to escape? There are some who do. But what they have to face once they leave is far worse than a life in the village. Rebaka: “I once escaped and found work as a maid. The people I worked for abused me because they knew I had been a prostitute.” She returned voluntarily to Daulatdia shortly thereafter.

For some, Daulatdia is a place of refuge – for most of them, it is their final destination.

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