Tragic Lives Of Bangladeshi Sex Workers Inside A 200-Year-Old Brothel


The people whose role has been used as an insult: sex workers. Although some say that some women consent to it, the majority have accepted that this sector is exploiting them.

The situation of these sex workers is definitely tragic, even though the countries where prostitution is regulated and the worker’s rights are defended by the government say the opposite.

Bangladesh is one of the Muslim countries where prostitution is legal.

The country’s oldest and second-largest brothel, named Kandapara, is surrounded by walls. This brothel is easy to get into but hard to get out of. 

Photographer Sandra Hoyn reveals the tragic lives living behind those walls with her powerful shots.


A prostitute named Kajol and a customer.

The brothel was built about 200 years ago. It was demolished in 2014, but has been established again with the help of Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers, because the prostitutes defended their rights as workers and didn’t have anywhere else to go.

Tons of babies are born here every year and large numbers of women call it home because they don’t have anywhere else to go.

The brothel is surrounded by a wall and operates as an independent city.

Supporters of the brothel state that women here work willfully and don’t want to do anything else.

Since Bangladesh's economy is really bad, men pay very little to these sex workers. That’s why they have to work every day.

You can walk around the narrow streets of this independent little city. There are many stores, tea shops and restaurants inside.

Most of the women are victims of trafficking. The average entry age is 12-14.

Click to see.

These girls, who are from poor families, stay at the lowest level of the hierarchy when they first enter the brothel. They work under a “madam” and work until they pay all their debts without any chance to refuse a customer.

It takes about 5 years to pay all the debts.

After those 5 years, it’s almost impossible to build a new life outside of the brothel with a new home and a new job, so they usually prefer to stay and live there for the rest of their lives.

12-14 year old workers take steroids to look older than 18 and to have a bigger body, because it's more appealing to Bangladeshi men.

The children take those steroids assuming they’re vitamins, then deal with many health problems when they grow old.

And those health problems are untreatable.


Demand is the cause of prostitution. But it’s the women who are rejected by the community, not the men.

Even the women who pay their debts and keep their money don’t leave the brothel because they’re scared to be social outcasts.

Not all of them are kidnapped; some escaped from the violence at home and the only option for them was the brothel.

There are many more who come to the brothel willingly because they're victims of sexual abuse at home.

There are 14 official brothels in Bangladesh.. 800 women work as sex workers here at the country's second-largest brothel.

The population is more crowded because women also have children.

Customers pass by those kids playing in the narrow streets of Kandapara brothel.

Yes, babies are also born in this brothel. Without knowing that they’ll be rejected by the community when they grow up.

Women raise their children in the brothel.

If the baby is a girl, she becomes a sex worker too. Many workers are born here..

Like an infinite loop…

But why are they having babies?

Because they’re not socially secure. They don’t have anything left to do when they get old and can’t attract any customers anymore.

Many of the women here are working to provide a better future for their children.

The sun also glitters for this surrounded city. There are also hundreds of women living with hopes and dreams in the Kandapara brothel.

Life goes on.

As we sip our coffees on our comfy sofas now, people out there struggle.
How do you feel?
Tears of Joy
Relieved Face
Clapping Hands
Thumbs Down
Send Feedback