Like any other day, Tumpa, a student of class III, who is a child of a sex worker, was found waiting outside of her mother’s room at around 7pm as her mother was busy in their room with her client.
While approaching to her and ask about her mother, she replies with a usual tone, “Ma (Mother) is working inside the room. Come after few minutes.”
Like other children at the kandapara brothel of Tangail, Tumpa is found completely aware of her mother’s profession as a sex worker in this early stage of her life while she would be busy in her study at this evening time.
While talking with Tumpa, who is the first girl of her school, she shares her intimate desire with this reporter saying, “In my future I want to be a Police Officer. Then I could able to rescue my mother from here and then I could sleep in my mother’s lap. I have missed it for a long time.”
She further says, “By becoming a Police, I only then able to take my Ma far away from here.”
According to Sex Workers Network (SWN) there are about 1400-1500 children live in the twelve brothels around the country while there are 1500-1600 children of street based sex workers are living in the city slums or road side. However, the number is higher than SWN statistics, according to the experts.
Moreover, there is no accurate statistics of the street based sex workers children is found neither from the government nor from any NGOs who are working on them.
Maximum children of the brothel face an overcrowded and open environment from their early age where they have to sometimes remain under the bed while her mother is busy in sex working with customers or entertain those customers by providing them cigarettes or liquor.
While the mainstream children is eagerly engaged in studying, playing and enjoying cartoons on TV, the brothel children are always fighting with their psychological dilemma and also facing many problems in their education, medical treatment and so on.
However, Most of the children living inside the brothel have already getting acquainted with their mother’s profession although some mothers keep their children outside of the brothel with their relatives.
Srity, a girl about 10 years old who lives in Madaripur brothel says, “I hate violence and drinking run here which takes me away from my mother. My mom has to entertain them while I need some time from her. Those persons who come to my mom hate me and tell me children of whores.”
There are some girls who have already joined their mother’s profession. As their mother cannot find any customer like earlier for this they have to join in this oldest profession of her mother. With this poverty these girls have also faced different types of social harassment and stigma.
One of them Papri who has completed S.S.C in 2009 getting A grade and now working as a sex worker in Madaripur brothel shares her worst experience in her school life, “I was a meritorious girl in my class. Every day I went to school and faced so many teases from the local people and boys even sometimes by my teachers. They treat me as children of prostitute and asked me my rate.”
“Enduring all these I was continuing my study but when my mother told me that she hardly found customers and it was hard for her to bear my expenditure then I planned to take this profession.” She adds.
“I had no desire to come in this profession. I had got myself chance to work in Bangladesh Police. But unfortunately I had missed it because I had no money to give them bribe” She tells with sorrow.
Her fellow friend Bithy who is also a sex worker tells, “I could not run my study when I was in class 10 because my mother could not bear our expenditure more as we are 3 brothers and sisters and I am the eldest girl of my mom. So I have to choice this way of prostitution.”
They complain once a NGO assure them to make a school for them inside the brothel but that assurance never come true. They prefer school made by NGO for them because they are not accepted by the mainstream people when they go outside of brothel to study in public school.
When this reporter went to a public school named Shahid School area, Tangail with a daughter of a sex worker hiding his identity, he observes that some boys of that school mock at that girl continuously. The girl also says that she never gives her identity to anyone but may be some one can identify her as a daughter of sex worker. From then she faces these types of mocking consequently.
After returning from Tangail this reporter is informed that the girl has already left the school and changed the school.
Another problem is faced by the sex workers children is requiring fathers name in every places like for getting admitted in the schools or for getting health facilities. In one side they have no acknowledged father; on the other hand they are discriminated for their mother’s profession.
Shahnaj Begum, ex-president of Durjoy Nari Sangha says, “In a patriarchal society like Bangladesh the lacks of acknowledged father in the lives of children of sex worker has a deeply negative impact on their emotional development. Furthermore they need their father name to get admitted in public school. But where they get their father’s identity? The government should think about this. Government can make a policy or option to use maternal identity where a children’s father is absent.”
These children of sex workers sometimes face discrimination when they go to doctor in government hospital or in private hospital for seeking treatment with their mother.
Kolpona (not her real name) says, “when we go to hospital with our children, if the doctor can identify any sexual transmitted diseases in my child body they can understand the children belongs to me is a child of a sex worker. Then they avoid giving my child treatment.”
“I don’t understand why they hate us? We are also human being. Now we try to go NGOs’ clinics rather than going to government or private clinic with our children. But when it is urgent to go there we really feel hesitate.” She adds.
A large number of children are born every year inside the brothel and in the slums of the city in a sex workers womb. As there are many underage girls forced to do sex working it is very often that they are becoming pregnant. And the newborn sometimes found death because of improper delivery. If the infant are stay alive then they have to face malnutrition as the mother has to go back to her work as soon as after childbirth.
An underage sex worker Mukta of Madaripur brothel gave birth to a death child one month ago who was then buried by a manager there in the dark night secretly. Amazingly, just after two days, the girl is waiting for customers in the alley of Madaripur brothel.
Hena Akhter, secretary of Sex Workers Network (SWN) says, “Like every mothers of this society sex workers also want their children to grow up and get all the rights of a children and social respect. But mother’s degradation affects the children rigorously. They cannot get proper education, jobs facilities or the daughters cannot be married off.”
“Only a few children get proper facilities when they are kept away from their mother. In this case they cannot give their mothers identity while asked. They have to keep secret this. For this reasons they cannot meet with others children frequently. 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” She concludes.