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“My Husband Sold Me to Brothel”

Over the course of seven months, journalists Corrine Redfern and Allison Joyce followed the lives of sex workers in Bangladesh as part of an exclusive investigation into internal trafficking across the country. This is Moyna’s story:

TANGAIL, Bangladesh – A man screams, and blood is drawn. Several hundred women emerge from their bedrooms, stumbling into the street. Eager-eyed, they stand on tip-toes and sharpen their elbows to get a better look.

Somewhere through the knot of angles and limbs an elderly woman in a mustard-coloured saree can be seen – can be heard – swearing, as she drags a man almost twice her size down a concrete alleyway by the torn collar of his t-shirt.

Behind the pair follow three teenage girls in Western pyjamas and skinny jeans, hissing and jeering and waggling nails filed to a point. The man turns a freshly scratched cheek to spit at their feet – and a chorus of silver bangles jingle in unison as the 16 year olds’ friends pull them back by their waistbands and they rain tight-knuckled blows against a wall of air.

The girls aren’t playing by the rules. They’re supposed to be sitting on upturned laundry buckets outside one of the eight official entryways to the brothel, faces bleached white with Gopinath’s ‘panc–cake’ powder. Their job is to lure customers into the brightly-painted labyrinth of moonshine and ganja smoke, where ten minutes of sex sells for 200 Taka [£1.80] and women are in control – albeit often of one another. But it’s August, and the prospect of another hour spent in the choking humidity of the South Asian summer sun isn’t tempting. Plus, the man didn’t pay.

Dating back 200 years, Kandipara is the oldest brothel in Bangladesh: a self-sufficient maze of windowless bedrooms, tea shops, roti stalls and drunken tailors. On a good day, its 400 employees will see 11 customers each, ‘or maybe 12’, they say, expressions sketched in contrasting shades of hope and dread. Either way, morning shifts start at approximately nine o’clock as businessmen and students from Tangail begin their rickshaw commutes to the office with a quick stop-off to stock up on sex and cigarettes. Then a steady stream of taxi drivers, shopkeepers and labourers find excuses to drop in throughout the afternoon.

But today doesn’t appear to be a good day. At least the drama serves as a distraction.

To view the full article, visit here

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