Is Prostitution Legal in Bangladesh?

Talking about prostitution or prostitute is a taboo in Bangladesh. They had no rights until The Honorable High Court gave a remarkable Judgment in 2001. Everything has been changed after the judgment. What was the judgment and why it is so important?

Prostitution is legal in Bangladesh, but the Bangladesh constitution provides that the “State shall endeavor to prevent gambling and prostitution.” Various provisions of different laws prohibit child prostitution, forced prostitution, solicitation, and the keeping of unlicensed brothels. But The Honorable High Court Division Sex workers Or Prostitutes has the same human right as other citizens in Bangladesh. The Great Saying “No Justice No Peace.” Works for Bangladesh.

Unlike many Muslim Countries, Bangladesh Government gives the full right to the prostitutes. Once those rights were not expressly ascertained by the Government. But everything has been changed when The Honorable High Court gave a remarkable Judgement on Writ Petition No: 2871 of 1999.

Which Law Govern Prostitution in Bangladesh?

Prostitution in Bangladesh Governs by Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, 1933, Vagrancy Act, 1950 (Repealed), and The Penal Code.

  • In Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, 1933. ‘Brothel’ is defined as a place in which two or more females sell sex.
  • Soliciting to sell sex is illegal under Section 290 of the Penal Code and various local laws.
  • A woman can obtain permission to sell sex by paying a fee and swearing an affidavit stating she is unable to find other work and is exercising free choice. This registration confers no social, economic, civil or political rights or access to health services. Registered women mainly work in large brothel complexes that have been tolerated for many years.
  • Law enforcement is highly corrupt and police violence is common. Women charged with vagrancy provisions are detained in shelters from which they are released to male ‘guardians’ or by paying a bribe. Various abuses in detention centers have been reported by sex workers. Women who have no guardian to collect them from detention or money for bribes are detained in the centers for longer periods or released to people that exploit them.

The Ground Breaking Judgement By The Honorable High Court Division of Bangladesh:

The Supreme Court has held that because there is no law expressly prohibiting prostitution sex workers should enjoy constitutional protection of their fundamental human rights and freedoms. It has also declared that detention for ‘vagrancy’ is unlawful and ordered that rehabilitation schemes be compatible with human dignity and worth. Consistent with this the Bangladesh Election Commission has recognized ‘prostitution’ as an occupation on the voter identification cards that Bangladeshi citizens needed to access services, open bank accounts, register children’s births etc.

The Supreme Court of Bangladesh (High Court Division) verdict on Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, 1933 referred in 53 DLR(HCD) 1 “Prostitution initially get themselves enrolled with the local administration expressing the desire to be prostitutes and get themselves confined to the brothels and get the required protection to continue in profession by the local administration whereby they are maintaining their livelihood which the State in the absence of any prohibitory legislation has a duty to protect and a citizen has the right to confer the right. Article 11 not providing for dignity of human person though not enforceable but the sex-workers as citizens have enforceable right under Article 31 and 32.”

In the Same Case The Honorable High Court Division verdict on Article 31 and 32 of The Constitution of Bangladesh Referred in the same case 53 DLR(HCD) 1 ” Upon their wholesale eviction from Tanbazar and Nimtali Prostitutes have been deprived of their livelihood which amounts to deprivation of the right to life making the action unconstitutional and illegal.” About Article 31 Lordship also hold in the same case that “As the sex-workers are now confined in Vagrant Home illegally terming them vagrant, the respondents have to release them forthwith so as to enable them to go on their own which is their fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution.”

The Supreme Court of Bangladesh (High Court Division) also observed About Vagrancy Act,1950 in the same case “The rehabilitation scheme must not be incompatible with prostitute’s dignity and worth of human person but designed to uplift personal morals and family life and provision for jobs giving them the option to be rehabilitation or to be with their relations and providing facilities for better education, family connection, and economic opportunities in order to minimize the conditions that give rise to prostitution.”

What is The Penal Code Saying About Prostitution?

Section 372. of The Penal Code says ‘Whoever sells, lets to hire, or otherwise disposes of any person under the age of eighteen years with the intent that such person shall at any age be employed or used for the purpose of the prostitution or illicit intercourse with any person or for any unlawful and immoral purpose, or knowing it to be likely that such person will at any age be employed or used for any such purpose, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. Selling minor for purposes on prostitution, etc.”

Explanation I.- When a female under the age of eighteen years is sold, let for hire, or otherwise disposed of to a prostitute or to any person who keeps or manages a brothel, the person so disposing of such female shall, until the contrary is proved, be presumed to have disposed of her with the intent that she shall be used for the purpose of prostitution.

Explanation II.- For the purposes of this section “illicit intercourse” means sexual intercourse between a person not united by marriage or by any union or tie which, though not amounting to a marriage, is recognized by the personal law or custom of the community to which they belong or, where they belong to different communities, of both such communities, as constituting between them a quasi-marital relation.

Final Thought About Prostitution in Bangladesh:

In Bangladesh Prostitution is not illegal but a matter of Taboo. Most of the People of Bangladesh don’t like to talk about them or their rights. But our Honorable High Court thought about them and give a very important ruling on this matter. People thought they have no right now they have all rights. Prostitutes are human like us and have similar rights. For More information Please Go to this Link.

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