A girl who was trafficked into a brothel at the age of 13 has spoken out about her daily mistreatment – including being fed cow steroids.

Now 19, Rupa has been working at a brothel in Bangladesh for five years, as sex work remains legal in the country.

Also read:

Mpasho Investigates Part 1: These Are The Brothels In Nairobi Which Are Open During The Day (PHOTOS)

Rupa works in Kandipara, one of Bangladesh’s estimated 20 legal brothel ‘villages’, living in the same house as approximately 400 other prostitutes.

Bangladeshi law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 to work in the brothels and they need a license from the state saying they are willing to work.

Seventeen-year-old prostitute Hashi, embraces a Babu, her "husband", inside her small room at Kandapara brothel in Tangail [file photo]
Seventeen-year-old prostitute Hashi, embraces a Babu, her “husband”, inside her small room at Kandapara brothel in Tangail [file photo]
Underage sex worker Bristi applying heavy makeup to appear more mature for her evening clients at Bangladesh's largest brothel in Daulatdia [file photo]
Underage sex worker Bristi applying heavy makeup to appear more mature for her evening clients at Bangladesh’s largest brothel in Daulatdia [file photo]

But it is estimated around 47 per cent of female sex workers were at one point child brides, trafficked into prostitution against their will.

Rupa herself was married at age 11 to a man nearly three times her age.

She fell pregnant with her husband’s child, but he was killed soon after in a work accident and her family refused to take her in.  Rupashe told the Telegraph

They said they couldn’t afford to look after me or my son. I wasn’t a virgin any more, so no other man would marry me.

She was forced to travel to Dhaka to look for work but she was soon picked up by sex workers and sold into prostitution.

Also read:

Mpasho Investigates Part 2: My Experience As An Undercover Prostitute In Nairobi Brothels

For three days following her arrival at Kandipara, Rupa says she was locked in a room and beaten whenever she tried to leave.

She was fed Oradexon, cow steroids, in a bid to force her body to develop and make her gain weight to look older.

‘When I was eventually sent to the police station to make my license, I was so scared of being hurt again that I just repeated what my madam had told me to say: that I was 18, and that I was happy to work in the brothel because I had no other options,’ Rupa added. 

Nineteen-year-old Lucky, a prostitute, embraces her three-month-old son Riyad at Kandapara brothel in Tangail [file photo]
Nineteen-year-old Lucky, a prostitute, embraces her three-month-old son Riyad at Kandapara brothel in Tangail [file photo]
A sex worker getting ready for her evening customers in the enormous Daulatdia brothel which houses over 2,000 women [file photo]
A sex worker getting ready for her evening customers in the enormous Daulatdia brothel which houses over 2,000 women [file photo]

Now Rupa is forced to see around 10 to 12 customers a day to survive each paying a pitiful 200 taka [£1.75] each time.

Meanwhile, the last NGO-run medical clinic closed its doors in the brothel in 2014 due to funding cuts, and Rupa hasn’t been tested for any STIs since.

Rupa also admitted she was regularly beaten by her customers and forced to cover up her wounds so she could continue working.

Also read:

Mpasho Investigates Part 5: Here Is What You Will Pay For If You Visit A City Brothel

Prostitutes in Bangladesh are often forced to work until they have enough money to buy their freedom, but Rupa says:

I like to dream about a better future. But I know it won’t happen for me.

According to Unicef, 22 per cent of girls aged between 15 and 19 in Bangladesh were married in 2017 – while 59 per cent are married by 18.

Charity Girls Not Brides also says Bangladesh has the fourth highest rates of child marriage in the world behind only Niger, Central African Republic and Chad.

Child marriage is more prevalent in rural areas where 71 per cent of girls are married before the age of 18, compared to 54 per cent in urban areas.

But according to the charity there is an intrinsic link between child marriage and prostitution rates among young women.

A pair of girls get ready for their customers by applying layers of makeup while looking in the mirror [file photo]
A pair of girls get ready for their customers by applying layers of makeup while looking in the mirror [file photo]
A prostitute holds up a packet of Oradexon, cow steroids, which force their young bodies to develop in order to fool the government into thinking they're 18 [file photo]
A prostitute holds up a packet of Oradexon, cow steroids, which force their young bodies to develop in order to fool the government into thinking they’re 18 [file photo]
Credits: Daily Mail

MPASHO TV