“It’s a very bad world,” says a Bangladeshi woman as she lowers her head. “I wish I was not alive.” This young woman is one of many such females who are confined within the walls of Daulatdia, the largest brothel in Bangladesh. These victims of sexual slavery number in the thousands. A vast majority of them are underage and have been sold into slavery while the local authorities look the other way.
Others find themselves imprisoned by the life of a prostitute because they have no other options in a country that otherwise offers them little opportunity. Thousands of male customers frequent the brothel on a daily basis, and the girls are stripped of their voice, their free will, or any empowerment or assistance in shaping their own destiny. “Men just come here, give me money, have their fun, and then leave,” another Bangladeshi woman proclaims. “I don’t have anyone here who loves me.”
The new documentary Sex Slaves of Bangladesh, produced by VICE News, goes inside the walls of Daulatdia, and uncovers an environment rife with emotional and sexual abuse, human trafficking, rampant drug use, and unsanitary housing. The girls are injected with a steroid which makes them fuller-bodied, and in many cases, masks the appearance of their underage status. Their pimps are mostly women, or madams, who take most of what they earn.
The Muslim country of Bangladesh outlaws gambling, drugs and alcohol, and activities like sex before marriage are severely frowned upon. The country’s laws dictate strict punishments and penalties for human trafficking and the exploitation of underage prostitutes. Yet, Daulatdia is allowed to operate with impunity. This is partly the result of tradition. Dautatdia is owned by one of the region’s most powerful families, and the facility has been operating since the British colonial period. But perhaps the larger reason lies is monetary in nature; the sex industry in Bangladesh is highly profitable and lines the pockets of many of the area’s most influential residents.
ex Slaves of Bangladesh provides a harrowing look inside a world where girls as young as twelve aren’t afforded the most basic of human rights, and the corrupted system which fails to act in the face of their degradation and torment.