Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 11, 2011

Against Their Wills

While in Dhaka last week, I read a disturbing article in the April 6th issue of The Daily Star, a Bangladeshi newspaper. The article was entitled: “About half of a brothel’s sex workers are children.” It seems that every time I pick up a news publication in Asia I can always find at least one article on the exploitation of children or the trafficking of human beings. This particular story about the exploitation of children at a brothel called Tangail was especially unsettling. Of Bangladesh’s fourteen registered brothels, Tangail, located a short distance outside of Dhaka, is the oldest. According to another source I read, the women who work in Bangladesh’s registered brothels must have notarized documents that state they are over eighteen years-old. So, in light of this, how is it possible that 300 of the 820 sex workers at Tangail are children as young as twelve years-old? The correspondent who wrote the article for The Daily Star offers some answers.

Deception | Because the demand for child sex workers is high, the number of children at Tangail has steadily increased. The children working there were lured away from their homes “through deceitful techniques,” are “forced to do the work against their wills,” and are kept compliant though the use of “brutal torture.” I read a separate report that said a pre-pubescent girl who had been forced to work at Tangail suffered a broken hip when the customer who was raping her violently penetrated her small body.

Corruption | The children who are forced to work as sex slaves at Tangail are registered as adults. Corrupt police officials turn a blind eye to the ages of the children and approve the requisite affidavits in exchange for brides ranging from $150.00 to $200.00 USD per girl. And, the police officials who visit and monitor activity at Tangail “hardly try to know whether a girl has come to this profession willingly or not.”

Observation | Because sex with children is in such high demand at brothels like Tangail, children are a valuable commodity to their captors and are therefore “kept under strict watch all the time.” These children fetch a higher price and are kept in bondage by sardanis (brothel madams) who act with impunity because they are in league with corrupt police officials who are paid to look the other way. Children are completely vulnerable to abuses and have no way of escape.

When the correspondent who wrote the article for The Daily Star contacted the local acting superintendent of police, he was told that the department will investigate the allegations of police corruption and review the affidavits on file. Hopefully this will happen. And hopefully it will result in judicial action against those who have robbed children of their innocence. But, that remains to be seen. Tangail has been around for one and a half centuries and has survived more than one season of scrutiny. And no one really knows the scope of the corruption that has made it possible for 300 children to be repeatedly raped for profit there. It’s unlikely that all of the wicked individuals will be rooted out. But, in spite of this, let’s pray that God will frustrate the plans of the wicked so that the children held captive at Tangail will no longer be forced to do horrible things against their wills.


  1. Thank you for the boldness to write about these things.

    This reminds me of Job 29:12-17

    12 Because I delivered the poor who cried for help,
    And the orphan who had no helper.
    13 “The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me,
    And I made the widow’s heart sing for joy.
    14 “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
    My justice was like a robe and a turban.
    15 “I was eyes to the blind
    And feet to the lame.
    16 “I was a father to the needy,
    And I investigated the case which I did not know.
    17 “I broke the jaws of the wicked
    And snatched the prey from his teeth.

    • Thank you, Matt. Love the passage from Job. Thanks for sharing.

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