Educating the children of sex workers is a rights-based issue

Different studies show that the children of commercial sex workers in the brothel of Bangladesh are deprived from human rights and specially education. Because there are hundreds of children have been growing up in the brothels without proper care, education, food, shelter and basic needs. As a result, they are becoming bound to list their names as commercial sex workers. And being failure to be educated, doing any honorable job and rehabilitate their mothers, sisters, near and dear ones from the profession of sex work.

UNICEF, Bangladesh in its several publications noted that the children of the sex workers in Bangladesh are not in a safe environment. Lack of focus on their personal development with an increasing risk of them becoming victims of the dangerous racket of sex trade and exploitation.  Children living in brothels have disproportionately limited access to education in Bangladesh. 

Society for Social Service (SSS), Tangail has been working for both formal and non-formal education for the children of sex workers of Tangail brothel. Once, I have visited the brothel and educational institutions of SSS in Tangail. I have talked to some of the sex workers there. In accord with their opinion, some of them wish to involve their female children in the sex working profession. And some of the mothers have dreams to educate even to provide higher education to their children so that they can work getting a job at any office to contribute for the mainstream development of Bangladesh.

SSS has been implementing some projects for the sex workers and their children. One of the projects is: Education and Child development. Through that project 102 children male (total 50) and female (total 52) of the sex workers are getting formal and non-formal education from play group up to the university level.  After completion of higher education some of the children are doing jobs and getting married.

Mohammad Jubayer, project coordinator, Education and Child Development of Society for Social Service (SSS),Tangail said that he is working for the project around 16 years. He is happy that many children of the sex workers of Tangail brothel are educated with both financial and technical assistance of the SSS. Even SSS has built a safe home for the children to provide food and accommodation, school uniforms, teaching materials free of cost.

Jabayer said, “To educate all the children of the sex workers of all the brothels in Bangladesh, government along with the civil society organizations, Media and other stakeholders must come forward to work together.”

Parul Begum (28, not her real name), a longtime sex worker at the Tangail brothel.  She is a mother of two children, one daughter, and one son. Like some other mothers, she is interested to educate her son. But she wants her daughter to be a sex worker like her. Parul said, “My daughter will work as a sex worker and will feed me at my old age. So for my financial security I want my daughter to work in this profession instead of getting education.”

While contacted, Selina Sheuly, a journalist of a national Daily newspaper said that the children of the sex workers have the same rights as the other children of the country. So we need to motivate the sex workers to send their children both daughters and sons to school, instead of engaging them at the sex working profession. Media have important role to play in this issue.

Sheuly forther said, “Government and other stakeholders need to motivate the sex workers that their daughters will be their financial security too if they are educated. Even the educated girls will be honored and respected in the society and to feed their mothers at the old age with dignity. Logically safe environment is a must for all the children.”

Arifa Akter (20), a daughter of a sex worker and student of class twelve of SSS college said, “Our teachers taught us that education of all the children is not an opportunity, rather it is our human right. So I dream to be highly educated and show the society that we can. There is no way to left us behind neglecting as the children of sex workers. We are thankful and grateful to SSS that we are greatly fortunate to be a part of mainstream education through their generous support.”

“Government and Development partners should allocate more funds for education, accommodation, infrastructure development and other facilities for the children of all the brothels in Bangladesh to ensure their inclusion in inclusive and mainstream education sector. Proper awareness of the sex workers, law enforcing agencies, civil society, local administration and other stakeholders are truly important for their support and cooperation  to educate the children of sex workers,”  Mohammad Jubayer of SSS added.

Madhobi Das Gupta, a university professor and a human rights activist in Tangail said, “Educating the children of sex workers is a rights-based issue. So research and evidence-based data and information are required to know the total numbers and status of the children of different brothels in Bangladesh. The total numbers of street children in Bangladesh will help us too to bring them in mainstream education and to ensure their dignified lives and livelihoods.”

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