116 imagesIn the village of Dauladtia, Bangladesh, on the banks of the Padma River, the landscape is flat dusty and dotted with corrugated roofs. The air is filled with the sounds of trucks’ horns, train whistles, and the orchestral hum of humans buzzing through the village. At first glance this does not look any different to countless other poor villages in this country, which is one of Asia's poorest and most congested. But just off the main street down a narrow alleyway, is a densely packed collection of tin shacks, shops, cafes and narrow streets lined with prostitutes, mostly underage, fiercely competing with one another for customers. It is the largest brothel in Bangladesh, with over 2000 servicing 3000 men every day. They have usually been kidnapped by gangs, sold by stepmothers, or lured here by boyfriends with promises of good jobs. In the brothel hierarchy, those who are bonded have the least freedom, but even those who chose to come here feel they have no alternative. Despite Muslim strictures on sex outside marriage, there are 100,000 women selling sex in Bangladesh and clients are surprisingly open about the fact that they visit them. The brothels are like ghettos where sex workers are confined in order to keep what is considered an “unbearable business” from spoiling the social environment. Such places are deliberately kept in obscurity and hidden from the eyes of the mainstream society. Inside their narrow alleys and crumbling lanes, a life full of hardship, extortion, rape, abuses and harassments of any kind, are an everyday occurrence. For the underage girls, the Madams prescribe a drug called Oredexon, a “cow-fattening” steroid to make the girls look older, despite the dangerous side effects on their health. Sex workers in Bangladesh are considered to be owned by brothel madams and have to repay their “purchase cost.” Sex workers themselves want to use Oradexon because the plumper they are, the more clients they get, and the closer they come to buying their freedom
45 imagesBangladesh is home to 147 million people and one of the most densely populated and impoverished countries in the world. More than 80 percent of the population live on less than a dollar a day. The country is in dire need of the world's attention, yet is rarely in the international media's spotlight. Growing international concern over global warming has particular significance for Bangladesh. It is extremely vulnerable to climate change because of its low-lying position on the Bay of Bengal in the densely-populated delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. Its national economy strongly depends on agriculture and natural resources that are sensitive to climate change and sea level rise. Already, climate change is causing a host of far-reaching problems in the natural, social and economic systems of the country.
155 imagesPortraits of Bangladeshis at Faridpur train station. Photos taken with an iPhone