Experts have urged the authorities concerned to include sex workers in Bangladesh's Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) implementation process.
They made the call during a discussion meeting organized by the "HIV/AIDS Research and Welfare Centre (HARC)" in Dhaka on Wednesday.
Among others, sex workers, civil society organizations, government officials, women activists, and human rights groups attended the discussion.
Addressing the event as the chief guest, MP Begum Lutfun Nessa Khan, said, "We must give legal recognition to sex work as work and to sex workers as workers."
She suggested sex workers charge for their services on an hourly basis as they provide services like other labors who are also paid hourly. She also mentioned that the NGOs, who work for sex workers, must empower and unite them to ensure their rights.
The lawmaker, also a member of the Standing Committee on Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, advised the sex workers to be more vocal about their rights. "Sex workers are the citizens of Bangladesh, and they have equal rights like the rest of us."
She demanded justice for all kinds of human rights violations against sex workers during the program moderated by journalist and researcher Zahid Rahman.
Niger Sultana, the coordinator of HARC, echoed MP Lutfun.
She pointed out that Bangladesh already submitted seven CEDAW reports and there was nothing about sex workers' issues.
"It's time to include sex workers issues in the CEDAW reports."
Habibur Rahman, the program manager of the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW), said that sex workers around Asia and the Pacific face high levels of interpersonal violence, from law enforcement and from civilians including people in the workplace, in public, and even at home.
Women activist and garment workers leader Sultana Begum said, "Sex workers have no rights in Bangladesh. They are neglected everywhere in society. Nobody considers sex work as work but it's time to acknowledge sex work is work."
"Sex workers are the citizens of Bangladesh and they have the same rights as other citizens," she furthered.
The meeting concluded with all participants agreeing to work together to end stigma, discrimination, and violence towards sex workers.
HARC is implementing a project in Bangladesh called "Amplifying the voice of Asian Sex Workers." |
The project is also being implemented in Indonesia, Laos, and Myanmar and is being managed by the APNSW based in Bangkok, Thailand.
In today's meeting, participants talked about how to protect the women sex workers' rights based on CEDAW recommendations and include sex workers issues in the CEDAW report.