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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025              

People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Bangladesh remains a poor, overpopulated, and inefficiently-governed nation. Although more than half of GDP is generated through the service sector, nearly two-thirds of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector, with rice as the single-most-important product. Garment exports and remittances from Bangladeshis working overseas, mainly in the Middle East and East Asia, fuel economic growth.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Bangladesh

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Bangladesh.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Inside the slave trade

Johann Hari, The Independent, 15 March 2008

[accessed 21 January 2011]

They are promised a better life. But every year, countless boys and girls in Bangladesh are spirited away to brothels where they have to prostitute themselves with no hope of freedom.  This is the story of the 21st century’s trade in slave-children. My journey into their underworld took place where its alleys and brothels are most dense - Asia, where the United Nations calculates 1 million children are being traded every day. It took me to places I did not think existed, today, now. To a dungeon in the lawless Bangladeshi borderlands where children are padlocked and prison-barred in transit to Indian brothels; to an iron whore-house where grown women have spent their entire lives being raped; to a clinic that treat syphilitic 11-year-olds.

She comes into the room swaddled in a red sari, carrying big premature black bags under her eyes. She tells her story in a slow, halting mumble. Sufia grew up in a village near Khulna in the south-west of Bangladesh. Her parents were farmers; she was one of eight children. “My parents couldn’t afford to look after me,” she says. “We didn’t have enough money for food.”  And so came the lie. When Sufia was 14, a female neighbour came to her parents and said she could find her a good job in Calcutta as a housemaid. She would live well; she would learn English; she would have a well-fed future. “I was so excited,” Sufia says.  “But as soon as we arrived in Calcutta I knew something was wrong,” she says. “I didn’t know what a brothel was, but I could see the house she took me to was a bad house, where the women wore small clothes and lots of bad men were coming in and out.” The neighbour was handed 50,000 takka – around £500 – for Sufia, and then she told her to do what she was told and disappeared. - htcp


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Country Monitoring Report [PDF]

ECPAT International, 2011

[accessed 26 August 2020]

Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Bangladesh. The report looks at protection mechanisms, responses, preventive measures, child and youth participation in fighting SEC, and makes recommendations for action against SEC.

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 23 August 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The penalty for sexual exploitation of children is 10 years’ to life imprisonment. Child pornography and the selling or distributing of such material is prohibited. In June the NGO Terre des Hommes-Netherlands released a report stating street children were the most vulnerable to sexual exploitation but had little legal redress due to a lack of social and financial support and a lengthy criminal justice system. The report said although the government took “necessary legal and institutional measures to combat commercial sexual exploitation, children face multiple challenges in accessing justice.” The report found 75 percent of female children living on Dhaka streets were at risk of sexual exploitation. Underage girls working in brothels were able to produce notarized certificates stating they were older than age 18, and some NGOs claimed that corrupt government and law enforcement officials condoned or facilitated these practices. In May human traffickers brought 23 teenage Rohingya girls from refugee camps to Dhaka (ref. 2.f.). Police speculated the girls were potential victims of forced prostitution.

2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2019

[accessed 22 August 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 176]

Nearly 350,000 Rohingya children are living in refugee camps in Bangladesh following the Burmese military’s ethnic cleansing operations in 2017. Children residing in the camps are vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. (50,53,54) Rohingya girls are trafficked from the refugee camps for commercial sexual exploitation in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal. In some cases, girls are promised jobs in domestic service but are instead forced into commercial sexual exploitation. (44,47)

Prostitution and forced labour: trafficking in human beings in Bangladesh

Sumon Corraya, Asia News, Dhaka, 26 February 2015

[accessed 26 February 2015]

In Bangladesh, human trafficking feeds humans to the sex trade and forced labour market. According to the Centre for Women and Child Studies, boys who fall into them tend to be under ten; girls tend to be between 11 and 16. However, it is not uncommon for children under eight years of age to become sex slaves, segregated in brothels or bawdyhouses.

Adult and teenaged Bangladeshis end up in the sex trade or forced into slave-like conditions like begging. In some cases, extremely poor parents sell their children. In other cases, traffickers trick them or force them into giving up their children.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 30 September 2003

[accessed 21 January 2011]

[71] While welcoming the National Plan of Action against sexual abuse and exploitation, the Committee is deeply concerned at the prevalence of sexual exploitation of children and the social stigmatization of the victims of such exploitation, as well as at the lack of social and psychological recovery programs and the very limited possibilities for victims to be reintegrated into society.  The Committee is also concerned about the widespread practice of forcing children into prostitution.

NGOs Work To Eradicate Human Trafficking, Help Victims

Press Release, US State Department, Washington DC, 2007-06-13

[accessed 4 April 2011]

U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations around the world are working to prevent human trafficking, provide resources to victims and arrest and prosecute child-sex offenders. From Africa to Europe to Asia, initiatives are raising worldwide awareness of the illegal practice of human trafficking.

PREVENTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING - The NGO INCIDIN, a prominent advocate of children’s rights in Bangladesh, works to prevent underage male prostitution in the country. INCIDIN has worked to shed light on this phenomenon and to remove the stigma of discussing it. INCIDIN opened a night shelter for street children in Dhaka and worked with the government of Bangladesh to expand the program to other parts of the country.

Child Rape and Coercion of Girls into Sex Work [DOC]

Prepared for the Committee on the Rights of the Child by Human Rights Watch Bangladesh, March 20, 2003

[accessed 4 April 2011]

Bangladesh acknowledges the problem of child prostitution in its Second Periodic Report to the Committee.  The report states that the most prevalent form of sexual exploitation affecting children in Bangladesh is child prostitution.  In December 2002, Human Rights Watch spoke to numerous women who had been forced into prostitution as girls.

Child Labor or Child Prostitution?

Thomas DeGregori,, October 8, 2002

[accessed 4 April 2011]

Yet proposed U.S. legislation against the importation of textiles produced by child labor -- to "protect" children from exploitation and promote their education -- has had a devastating effect in Bangladesh, especially on the lives of those for whom it was designed to protect.  As a result of pressure from the United States, the children were fired by the garment industry and many went back to prostitution and other dangerous behavior.

Bangladesh's Child Sex Workers: No Place To Go

Asia Child Rights ACR Weekly Newsletter Vol.01, No.03, 27 NOV 2002

[accessed 4 April 2011]

Boys tend to become pimps once they grow up and girls continue in their mothers’ profession. Most girls enter the profession before the age of 12.  Societal indifference and apathy towards children of sex workers is one of the primary reasons for growing numbers of child sex workers.

Street Children Suffer Sexual Abuse

Qurratul Ain Tahmina, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Dhaka, November 12, 2001

[accessed 4 April 2011]

These men can easily lure the children with food, money and kind words and eventually abuse them sexually. This happens to boys and girls equally," he says.  Homosexual practices, too, are very high among the boys.

When Police act as Pimps - Glimpses into Child Prostitution in India

Manushi, Issue 105 -- Edited extracts from an investigation conducted by Roma Debabrata for the National Commission for Women in 1997

[accessed 4 April 2011]

A TYPICAL RECRUITING GROUND - Women dalaals, mostly original inhabitants of Bangladesh subsequently settled in India after their marriage, go scouting for minor girls deeper into the impoverished villages of the bordering districts of Bangladesh.  Acting as a ghatak (female match maker) as a cover up, she negotiates with the parents of a minor girl and settles a sham marriage with a male dalaal.  Then she informs the male dalaal in India.

Pakistan Needs a National Plan of Action against Child Sexual Exploitation & Abuse

Amir Murtaza, Editor, Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid LHRLA

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 13 September 2011]

The workshop divulged that commercial sexual exploitation of children was a significant problem in Bangladesh; according to estimation several thousand Bangladeshi girls were trafficked out of the country each year. Child prostitution is also a notable problem in Bangladesh where researchers believed that around 29,000 children were in this business.

Child Prostitution on the rise in Bangla

Asian Age Newspaper, 3rd February 1999

[accessed 4 April 2011]

Activists here warn that child prostitution among boys as well as girls is on the rise with at least 62,000 Bangladeshis employed in the sex trade in the Indian sub-continent.




2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 20 April 2018

[accessed 16 March 2019]

[accessed 16 March 2019]

PROHIBITION OF FORCED OR COMPULSORY LABOR  - The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor. Penalties for forced or bonded labor offenses are five to 12 years’ imprisonment and a fine of not less than 50,000 taka ($625). Inspection mechanisms that enforce laws against forced labor did not function effectively. Resources, inspections, and remediation efforts were inadequate. The law also provides that victims of forced labor have access to shelter and other protective services afforded to trafficking victims.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 6 February 2020]

WOMEN – Prostitution is legal and remained a problem during the year. The minimum age of 18 for legal prostitution was commonly ignored by authorities and circumvented by false statements of age. Procurers of minors were rarely prosecuted, and large numbers of child prostitutes worked in brothels. The UN Children's Fund estimated in 2004 that there were 10 thousand child prostitutes working in the country, but other estimates placed the figure as high as 29 thousand.

CHILDREN - Child labor remained a problem and frequently resulted in the abuse of children, mainly through mistreatment by employers during domestic service and occasionally included servitude and prostitution.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 21 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - In urban areas many children work as domestic servants, porters, and street vendors, and are vulnerable to sexual abuse and commercial sexual exploitation.  The legal definitions of prostitution and trafficking do not account for males, so the government provides few services for boy victims of child prostitution.

ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children - BANGLADESH [PDF]

ECPAT 2005

[accessed 3 April 2011]

There are indications that in recent years the incidence of the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the country has changed. In addition to child marriage and traditional/customary laws that contribute to the commercial sexual exploitation of children, more incidences of child trafficking for sexual purposes, child prostitution, and child pornography are evident. It appears that the majority of Bangladeshi children forced into prostitution are based in brothels, with a smaller number of children exploited in hotel rooms, parks, railway and bus stations and rented flats. More than 20,000 children live in the 18 registered red light districts in Bangladesh and many are forced into or are expected to enter the same situation as that of their mothers. In these contexts, younger children, for example, help their mothers with household chores and provide refreshments for their mother’s clients. Boys often become pimps when they get older and many girls enter prostitution before the age of 12.

A report published by Appropriate Resources for Improving Street Children’s Environment (Arise) in 2002, put the number of street children in Bangladesh at approximately two million and indicated that sexual exploitation of children is rampant. Little has changed to reduce these numbers and homeless children living on the streets continue to be particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation as their strategies for survival, usually as rag pickers, beggars or peddlers, renders them vulnerable to all forms of exploitation and abuse. In the precarious and dangerous conditions in which they exist, they are sometimes forced into offering sexual favors to meet basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing. A 2005 research study conducted by the NGO Aparajeyo-Bangladesh (AB), cited several forms of sexual exploitation on the streets: it reported that children are coerced into massaging adultsand are forced to engage in sexual activities in market places, parks, railway stations, and boat and bus terminals. Some pimps use city hotels or rented private flats in certain parts of the city for sexual exploitation. Men involved in small businesses such as operators/vendors (36%), beggars and day labourers (17.2%), as well as the police and security guards (9.6%), were among the largest groups of sexual exploiters of street children. Others include relatives, transport workers, employers, and strangers. The study noted that among the key contributing factors that drove children into situations of exploitation were poverty, hunger, the need to earn money, sexual abuse by employers, family members or other men and the threat and force by pimps and others in their environment.

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