Changemaker: Shomy Chowdhury
Country of Implementation: Bangladesh
Bangladesh is one of the rare Muslim countries where prostitution is tolerated. There are about 20 gigantic brothels in Bangladesh, but Daulatdia is the biggest in the area - perhaps even in the world. Almost 3500 customers flock daily to Daulatdia, handily located close to a busy highway between India and Dhaka. Daulatdia, 100 km from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is a brothel-district where around 1500 women live and work as prostitutes. Many of the prostitutes have always lived here - put out to work between the ages of 10 and 13 by mothers who were themselves prostitutes. Others were abducted from their villages and sold into prostitution by their families to pay off debts. The women are caught in a trap where they have to keep working to pay their debts to the pimps who exploit them. And to increase their appeal to customers, they risk their lives by taking Oradexon, a steroid used to fatten cattle, to make their figures more shapely. These women cannot even go back to their villages in fear of not being accepted. remain sad, are the most neglected, and lead a very unhealthy lifestyle. Daulatdia is a very unclean place to live at. However, Shomy and a group of his friends realized that these prostitutes are also human who deserve to maintain a hygienic lifestyle. Hence, on August 11, 2017, she and her friends arranged a day-long awareness campaign at the Daulatdia brothel. It was named Project MBBS: Make Brothels in Bangladesh Safe. Out of 1500 women living there, about 500 directly participated. Shomy and her friends took sessions on how to maintain hygiene and its significance, the risk of taking Oradexon steroid that are used to fatten the cattle, risk of unprotected sex, menstrual hygiene and importance of cleanliness in the community. There were interactive sessions, ice breakers and interesting games that made the whole day a fun one for the women who rarely get to smile. The participants took part in quizzes and won token gifts towards the end. The "Trashmob" was the best part of the day. The women were given sacks and 20 minutes to collect trash from the whole brothel. The person who collected the highest amount of trash was the winner. The participants enjoyed it the most. The before and after pictures of the brothel was remarkable. Participants also received posters on few things to remember from the campaign. Shomy wants to continue this project in other brothels across Bangladesh with the aim of making brothels in Bangladesh safe for the sex workers.