A general view of the red light district in southern Bangladesh’s Madaripur district (MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/GettyImages)
BANGLADESH government has started providing emergency food and aid to sex workers in the country.
Reports said that 100,000 women could be left unable to support families as brothels are closed amid fears of COVID-19 outbreak.
The sex industry in the country has come to a standstill. The government has closed the country’s biggest brothel in Goalanda in the Rajbari District of Dhaka.
Prostitution is legal in Bangladesh and the government estimates that around 100,000 women are working in the sex industry.
“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.”
According to local authorities, distribution of food and financial aid from the disaster management and relief ministry has already started.
Reports said that eaxh sex workers are given 30kgs of rice and 2,000 taka (£20).
However, healthcare workers at Goalanda area opined that more help would be needed to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in brothels and red light districts.
“The brothel area is very dirty and unhygienic. The rooms are inhumanly tiny. The house owners built the rooms strategically for more profit so that they can fit more rooms in a small area,” said Zulfekar Ali, the in-charge doctor at the Gonoshasthaya Kendra charity hospital.
“In that same tiny room, the sex workers live, work and often cook. Many share common toilets.”