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Kandapara brothel in Tangail is one of 14 official brothels in Bangladesh. It consists of more than small rooms, which together make up what is in essence a prison for around sex workers. Hashi embraces her 'husband' in her room.
Many young and inexperienced prostitutes have 'lovers' or 'husbands'. They normally live outside the brothel, occasionally taking money or sex from the girls in exchange for security. The drug can be found at any tea or cigarette stall around the brothel. No one needs a prescription to buy it. Oradexon brings more income but leaves dangerous side effects. It increases the appetite, causes weight gain and makes poorly nourished teens appear healthy and older - attracting clients who prefer girls with "curves".
A customer jokes with Hashi as she tries to pull him into her room. With rates as low as 50 taka 60 U. Maya also works in the brothel. Her son Halim, a four-year-old child, lives with her parents. She cannot save money for him as she has to pay off bills and debts. Eleven-year-old Shefali, a prostitute, gets her eyebrow threaded. Shefali was born in Kandapara brothel because her mother was also a prostitute.
She has to serve around customers per day. Shefali doesn't know how much she earns as her Madam takes away all of her income. In exchange she gets food three times a day and, occasionally, some gifts. The evening was quieter than in hectic Dhaka. The gentle breeze of spring surrounded the cold atmosphere of the small town of Tangail, in the northeast of Bangladesh.
The bright tungsten lights of grocery shops and the high volume of Bangladeshi pop music from the tea stalls mesmerised the whole area. Between these stalls, the alleyways on the other side of wide drains were dark. Following my fixer I suddenly found myself inside one of these narrow lanes, where young girls with heavy makeup and colourful clothes were lined up. The girls of different ages, though mostly teenagers, tried to draw the attention of men by laughing, chuckling and pulling their hands.