The children of sex-trade workers in Jessore, Bangladesh, receive an education through a project newly supported by PWRDF. The aim of the initiative is to offer children alternatives to working in brothels.
The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has agreed to fund a project in Jessore, Bangladesh, that educates children of sex workers to provide them with an alternative to life in the brothels, where they are often expected to work in the sex industry when they reach puberty and where they are exposed to sexual abuse.
“Sex workers are considered to be a high-risk population group when it comes to addressing HIV/AIDS in Asia Pacific,” said Mahjabeen Chowdhury, PWRDF’s Asia-Pacific co-ordinator, in a report. “The brothel children project appeared to be a good initiative to address the situation of HIV/AIDS.”
PWRDF has approved a grant of $20,000 over the next three years to Jagoroni Chakra, a non-governmental organization, which launched the project, Human Rights for Brothel Children and Their Mothers, in 2002. Jagoroni Chakra has built a residential school complex that today accommodates 178 children.
Jessore, which borders India, has historically been a centre for trade and commerce. “This attracts a lot of migrant workers as well as traders and various types of business people,” said Ms. Chowdhury. “As a result, a demand for sex workers was created and a number of brothels were established.”
Ms. Chowdhury said girls born in the brothels are expected to become sex workers when they reach puberty, while boys either become pimps or get involved in trafficking of narcotics.
The Jagoroni Chakra school provides children with counseling, training on human rights and primary education (grades 1 to 5) before they move to mainstream government-run schools for further studies.
In 2003, the United Nations declared Bangladesh to be on the verge of an AIDS epidemic.
In related news, PWRDF also recently approved a grant of $5,000 for HIV/AIDS and reproductive health programs for Asian migrant workers run by St. John’s (Anglican) Cathedral in Hong Kong.
Established in 1995, St. John’s Cathedral HIV Education Centre offers free reproductive health programs to local women, Asian migrant women and youth in primary and secondary schools.
Hong Kong is home to about 350,000 non-Chinese migrant workers, the majority of them from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, Japan, United Kingdom and Sri Lanka. Many of the women work as domestic helpers for Hong Kong families.