1st Place, Sandra Hoyn, Germany
The Longings of Others
The Kandapara brothel in the district of Tangail is the oldest and one of the largest in Bangladesh - it has existed for some 200 years. It was demolished in 2014 but has been re-established with the help of local NGOs. The brothel district is surrounded by a two-metre wall, and in the narrow streets within, there are food stalls, tea shops and street vendors. More than 700 sex workers live and work here with their children and their madams. Many of the women were either trafficked or born inside the brothel's walls and in this way their livelihood is secure. Their customers are policemen, politicians, farmers, fishermen, factory workers and groups of teenage boys.
The brothel is a place with its own rules and power hierarchies, which are completely different from mainstream society. The most vulnerable stage is when a young sex worker enters the brothel, when she is called a bonded girl. Officially, sex workers must be 18 years old, but most are underage and bonded girls are usually 12 to 14 years old. They have no freedom or rights; they belong to a madam, have debts and are not allowed to go outside or keep their money.
From the moment a woman has paid her debts, she is free to leave. Although prostitution inside registered brothels has been legal in Bangladesh since 2000, these women are socially stigmatised outside their "homes" and thus often choose to stay and continue supporting their families with their earnings.