To contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the state has ordered lockdowns in the sex business, closing the country’s biggest brothel in Goalanda in the Rajbari District of Dhaka until 5 April along with many others across the country.
These closures have left many of the estimated 100,000 women working in brothels in Bangladesh with no way of supporting themselves or their children.
Prostitution is legal in Bangladesh.
“We don’t earn much here, I make enough to survive day to day and most of us are in debt,” said one 26-year-old woman who has worked in a brothel in Goalanda for more than seven years. “What will happen if things don’t get better? Yesterday I needed to get some food but all my money is stuck in online banking apps and all the cashpoints are closed. I managed to borrow some from a friend, otherwise I would have been in big trouble.”
Local government official Rubayet Hayat, of the sub-district of Goalanda, said financial and food aid from the disaster management and relief ministry would start to be distributed by the end of this week.
“There are some 1,800 women in the brothels under our jurisdiction. We have asked for 30kgs of rice and 2,000 taka (£20) [for each of these women],” he said. “We have got the initial approval and are hoping the funds will be sanctioned by the end of this week.”