Most people think that prostitution is an unacceptable act. In some societies, however, it is legal and working as a prostitute is considered a profession. One country, in particular, is Bangladesh, a Muslim country in which prostitution is actually acceptable. The oldest and second largest of the country’s brothels – Kandapara Hotel – can be found in the Tangail district.
In 2014, though, Kandapara was destroyed, leaving women without jobs and not knowing what they’ll do with their lives. However, the business was restarted when local NGOs offered help.
Recently, German photographer Sandra Hoyn traveled to Tangail to gather stories from women and share them to the world through pictures. Andrew Biraj, a Bangladeshi photojournalist, also shared some of the heartbreaking photos and stories about the lives the women lead.
Prostitutes in Bangladesh usually start between the ages of 12 and 14.
When these girls get into the business, they’ll be called as “bonded.” Most of the women in the industry hail from poor families, while others could be victims of trafficking. Girls who start selling their bodies usually belong to a person referred to as “madam.”
These “bonded” girls are not allowed to venture outside and they are not paid for an average of five years. Once a girl has paid off her debt, she is eligible to work as an independent sex worker. By that time, the girl can turn down customers and can keep her earnings.
Although Bangladeshi brothels are legal, women are still being stigmatized when they are outside the district.
For this reason, many prostitutes would rather support their families with their pay without visiting them or going near them.