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Even though prostitution is legal in Bangladesh, this doesn’t mean that sex workers are living better lives there. Kandapara brothel for example (the oldest one in the country) is separated from the outside world with a large perimeter-like wall, and it even has its own power heirarchy.

Photojournalist Sandra Hoyn visited Kandapara and documented life inside the brothel with a series of vivid images. They tell the stories of prostitutes who come from poor families (often born inside the brothel) and have no freedom or rights. Women are forced to work until they pay all their debts – only then are they allowed to leave the brothel. However, mainstream society usually condemns them for their past, so many of these women choose to stay in the brothel and continue providing for their families by selling their bodies.

More info: sandrahoyn.de

Pakhi, 15 years, and Mim, 19 years. Both are sexworker in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail.

Women waiting for customers.

The Kandapara brothel in Tangail.

Used condoms outside the brothel.

Mim, 19 years, is having a shower in the brothel.

Dipa, 26 years, is crying. She is in the 2nd month pregnant from a customer.

The arm of a customer.

Bonna, 27, is laughing with a condom in the hand. When she was 7 years old she was raped by her stepfather. She run away from home with 10 years as a man picked her off the street and sold her into a brothel. She has two regularly customers. On average she earn 1500 Taka (19 $) per day.

Five days old twins lie on the bed. They have not yet a name. Jhinik, 20 years, a sexworker in the Kandapara brothel gave birth to them.

Rupa, 16, is dancing on the bed while a customer is filming her.

A customer in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail.

Bonna and the son of a sex worker hugging each other.

Roni and Saddam are dancing. Both are shop owners and sons of sexworkers.

Papia, 18, in the Kandapara brothel. Her parents died when she was a child, she was married young. Her husband and she took heroin, she has been in jail because of this. She says that the jail was the best place she has ever been, because nobody beats her there. In the jail she got to know a woman who brought her later to the brothel.

Papia, 18, with two customers.

Students and regularly customers in the brothel.

Bonna, 27, a sexworker in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail, is fighting with another woman.

Kajol with her 6 month old baby Mehedi and a customer on her bed. She thinks she is 17 years but does not know her exact age. She was married with 9 years. Her aunt sold her to the Kandapara brothel. Two weeks after the birth she was forced to have sex again with customers. Because of the baby her business is not so good.


Kajol with a customer.

Bethe, 8 years, is playing with Yusuf. He is the regular customer (boyfriend) of Bonna. Bethe was born in the Kandapara brothel. She goes to school and works not now as a sex worker. Her mother wants her to start working as sex worker when she is 14 years.

A customer try to kiss Priya, 19, on the cheek. Since she is 17 she is working as a sexworker in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail.

Bonna, 27, other sex workers and a shop owner are laughing.

Customers inside the Kandapara brothel in Tangail.

Asma, 14 years, with a customer. She was born int the Kandapara brothel in Tangail.

Asma has stopped attending school because the students harass her because her mother work as sexworker in the brothel. She started working as a sex worker when she was 14 years old. Before she danced in front of customers.

Priya, 19, is teasing a friend and try to beat him. She is working as a sex worker since she is 17.

Priya and Kajol are looking for music in Priya’s room.

Sumaiya, 17, with her boyfriend and regular customer Titu, 23, in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail. He is from Dhaka and visits ger every month one week. They are often fighting, because Titu wants to marry her, but she doesn’t want. She is afraid that after marriage he will take away all her money. He is jealous, because she has sex with many of his friends. Sumaiya is jealous because he has sex with other sexworkers in the brothel.

Sumaiya in front of her room.

Sumaiya with her boyfriend and regular customer Titu.

Titu grabs Sumaiya by her arm.

Sumaiya was beaten by Titu.

Pakhi, 15 years, with a customer in her room in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail. He came in a group of five men who all wanted to have sex with her one after another. These men left the room because they were too drunk. The man in the picture also left the room after this photo. The main reason was because Pakhi didn´t like him. But also because I was in the room.

Meghla, 23, with a customer in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail. She started working for a garment factory when she was 12 years old. There that she met a man who promised her a better job with more money and he sold her into a brothel.

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