Está en la página 1de 2

An insight into the complicated lives of children of sex workers.

Tumpa, a class two student, is waiting patiently outside her mothers room. When asked why she is standing
there, she replies in a drab tone: Ma is working inside. Come back after a few minutes. Tumpa is the
daughter of a sex worker who lives in the now re-opened Kandapara brothel in Tangail. Even at this early
age, she is completely aware of her mothers profession. In the evenings, at a time when children are usually
busy studying, Tumpa has no choice but to wait outside their room until her mother finishes dealing with her
clients. Tumpa is also the first girl in her class.
One day, she says, she would like to become a police officer. Only then I will be able to rescue my mother
from here, and sleep on her lap. I have missed that for a long time, says Tumpa.
According to the Sex Workers Network of Bangladesh (SWNOB), approximately 1,700 children are living
in 12 brothels across the country, and 1,500-1,600 children of street based sex workers are living in the
slums and on the roads. However, experts claim that the number is likely much higher.
Unhealthy Environment
While a caring and healthy environment is needed for the sound development of any child, many children
inside brothels live in difficult conditions, surrounded by activities that can create long-term emotional
damage. According to many accounts, they sometimes hide under the bed while their mother attends
customers above. The consumption of cigarettes and alcohol inside the rooms is as common as breathing.
Ten-year-old Smrity, who lives in Madaripur brothel, said: I hate the violence and drinking that take place
here and when they take my mother away from me. My mother has to entertain them, but I need to spend
time with her. Those people who come to my mother hate me and call me names.
Vicious Cycle
Despite sincere efforts by many mothers to keep them away from the profession, some children living inside
the brothels take up sex work when they come of age. Girls sometimes join the profession when the mother
gets old and cannot find enough customers. Choked by poverty, harassment and stigma, they make a living
in the profession they know. Papri, who completed her SSC in 2009 with an A grade, now works as a sex
worker in the Madaripur brothel. I was a meritorious student in my class, she says. Everyday I went to
school, local people, boys, sometimes even my teachers, would tease me. They asked me my rate and
called me the child of a prostitute. Enduring all this, I continued my studies, she says. But my mother
told me that she could hardly find customers anymore and it was becoming difficult to bear my study
expenses. I quit school and decided to take up this profession.
I had no desire to do this. I also got a chance to work for the Bangladesh police. But there I was asked to
bribe them, which I could not do for lack of money, Papri recalls with distress. Her friend Bithi, who is also
a sex worker, says: I had to quit my studies when I was in class 10 because my mother could not bear the
expenses. I have two more siblings and I am the eldest. So I had no choice but to go into prostitution.
Scarlet Letter
These children start facing fierce discrimination from a very early age, be it in availing education,medical
treatments or any other civil rights. These children realise that they are not part of the mainstream
children. A number of sex workers and their children at Jamalpur brothel allegedly said that an NGO had
assured them they would build a school inside the brothel, but they never did. They were eagerly waiting the
school, as they did not find acceptance in public schools outside the brothel. At a public school named
Shahid School in Tangail, while walking around the school area with the daughter of a sex worker, I saw
boys from the school passing comments at her continuously. The girl said although she never disclosed her
identity as the daughter of a sex worker, somehow someone got to know it, and since then she had been
facing such harassments.

A few days later the girl left and went to a new school.
The name of the father
Another ordeal for the children of sex workers is providing the name s of their fathers, especially when it
comes to seeking admission in schools or availing health facilities in clinics and hospitals.
On one hand, they are embarrassed as there is no acknowledged father, and on the other hand, they are
discriminated against because of the mothers profession. Shahnaj Begum, former president of Durjoy Nari
Sangha, an NGO, said: In a patriarchal society like Bangladesh, the absence of the identity of a father
creates a hazardous impact on childrens lives and emotional development.
They need a fathers name to get admitted in public schools. But from where would they get it? she
laments. The government should take this issue into consideration. It can design a policy to use maternal
identity in cases of these children, if the fathers identity cannot be found. Kolpona (not her real name), a
sex worker says: If a doctor finds any sexually transmitted disease in a child, they know that the child
belongs to a sex worker. Then they start avoiding us and do not provide my child with proper treatment. I
dont understand why they hate us. We are also human beings. Now we prefer NGO run clinics rather than
the government or private ones. But still there are cases of emergencies when we have to approach these
places and we are really hesitant in those times, she adds.
Future Tense
A large number of children are born every year inside brothels and in slums inside cities. As more and more
girls aged under 18 are getting into this business, the rate of child birth is also on the rise.
Miscarriages often take place. Many infants die from malnutrition, as the mother has to get back to business
as soon as possible after giving birth to the child. A 14-year-old sex worker, Mukta of Madaripur brothel,
gave birth to a dead child one month ago. According to her, the child was secretly buried by the manager at
night. Hena Akhter, secretary of SWNOB says: Like every mother, sex workers also want their children to
grow up with all the rights that a child is entitled to have, and with respect from society. But these mothers
cannot provide their children with proper education because of their profession, she says. The children
face further discrimination when it comes to getting jobs. Mothers who are sex workers face difficulties in
marrying their daughters off. Only a few children get proper facilities when they are kept away from their
mothers. In these cases, they hide their mothers identities, Hena adds. For these reasons they cannot
socialise with other children normally, she says. They are always afraid to disclose their original identity
as this country is not like India, where children of sex workers feel free to say that they are the children of
sex workers.
- See more at: