Half of the population around the world comprises of women. Women with high economic potential are considered as independent and highly empowered. Do you think this is true? Can our well-being be explained just by having proper education and proper job? Can that explain how we are happier than other women? What about the women who earn their money through prostitution?
Why is the issue of prostitution not represented in Economics at all? Is prostitution a black market that made it underrepresented in Economics? Or is there a gender bias caused by reduction of women taking Economics as a subject for academic accomplishments?
The Global Gender Gap is a current issue that is being discussed about in the current world. Women are not being able to secure fair pay when it comes to employment. They are being segregated due to them being different from men- by just being a woman. Although this issue has not really been solved but reduced in a global level due to attempts by the development practitioners who are working hard to change the stereotype and ensure the welfare of women in the workplace. World Bank has already approved that Bangladesh is the fast growing developing country, which requires a slight improvement in quality education for primary schools, gender empowerment and a few more things. This might take Bangladesh to a new level-be the new Asian Tiger by increasing GDP. It's performance in Gender Gap Index has done a magic by ranking really high from 72 to 47th position, with Iceland being the highest. But this should come as an inspiration for people of Bangladesh to emphasize more on women empowerment, rather than discouraging it.
Still, we will find that women are deprived of basic education or health care. We can find out what prostitution is and how it has been practiced in a developing country like Bangladesh which has created a constraint on a woman’s ability to empower herself and the community around her. According to the Unicef, 65% of women are unemployed in Bangladesh. Malnutrition has led to negative impact on their pregnancy and mortality rates. The net attendance rates in secondary education are still extremely low, at only 53 per cent for girls and 46 per cent for boys
Prostitution in Bangladesh comprises of food stalls, tea shops and street vendors and a secret space which is separated from the outer civilized world. Prostitution has been legal in Bangladesh since 2000 and the girls are being exploited there by being victims of fraud marriage proposals or simply by escaping from home. If a woman pays her debt in the brothel, then she can freely leave but they are socially stigmatized due to their family inability to accept them as a woman or human being. Families find it hard to accept these women since their reputation in the society becomes at stake. Moreover, they have been trafficked to many countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal and so on. During the last year, 384 victims were served by government and NGO care facilities in Bangladesh; some of these may have been victims of trafficking. The Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment continued to operate shelters for female Bangladeshi victims of trafficking and exploitation in Riyadh and Jeddah. Law enforcement personnel encouraged victims of trafficking, when identified, to participate in investigations and prosecutions of their traffickers, but there was no evidence of the number of victims who assisted in investigations and prosecutions of traffickers in the reporting period. Authorities did not penalize victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. When no space was available in shelter homes, however, female victims of trafficking – as wards of the police or court – stayed in jails.
However, I don’t think that making sex trafficking illegal is a practical solution to reduce the number of existence of brothels in Bangladesh. In order to reduce it, we need to understand the role of education and social changes in their lives. They play a highly significant role in changing how the world treats a prostitute.
We all have studied in our books that education is the backbone of a nation. And yet we fail to ensure the provision of education to them and their illegitimate children. They are constantly being stigmatized due to their background which creates a barrier for them to empower themselves and be independent. What was the purpose of education in this world? Education is introduced with the purpose of providing universal knowledge and change the world, rather than getting a job and earning a pretty amount of salary. With education, they will be able to understand that the job they do is undermining their potential. This could be a great loss to a nation if we fail to recognize the potential of a woman since they are mothers, daughters and sisters who contribute a great proportion of welfare to a society. Instead of creating a culture that the prostitutes deserve a place outside of a civilized world, we should open the world for them to enter and create a better impact on the economic performance of Bangladesh.
The family members of the prostitutes should understand that going to brothels was completely not their choice. Rather, they were forced by men who wanted to harm the reputation of the family. A prostitute might sound disgusting but they have a heart and a soul that represent them as a human being. We should stop judging women based on the patriarchal assumptions. Once a family finds it easier to accept them, the society gradually begins to accept her existence. Then she will be able to stop being inclined to prostitution and focus more on developing herself as a civilized woman.
Economics is a beautiful subject that explains how the market works in the world. But it rarely includes the contribution of women in the progress of a nation, other than Development Economics. Therefore, I believe that if we can solve the issue of prostitution through small steps, the world will definitely be a better and safe place for women in the public space.
And if you want to have more insight about the reality of brothels in Bangladesh, you can follow the link here.
Aldama,Zigor. Miguel Candela.The Brothels of Bangladesh.The Diplomat. 23 February 2015
Dickerman, Kenneth. Within these walls: inside the legal brothels of Bangladesh. Independent 31 October 2016
The Global Gender Gap Report.World Economic Forum .2014
Women and Girls in Bangladesh. unicef. 10 June