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Year: 2006 Type: Article Language: English

In 1999, the government of Bangladesh forcefully evicted sex workers from a large cluster of brothels just outside Dhaka. Members of the sex worker organisation, Ulka, immediately sought support from Naripokkho, a country-wide women’s NGO. The Naripokkho office was transformed into an impromptu shelter with over 40 women sleeping there, and a few more staying with staff in their homes. This led to a new set of relationships and alliances between the sex workers and staff. Naripokkho and other Bangladeshi women’s organisations supported a campaign for the rights of the sex workers and their struggles to defend themselves against the illegal evictions. This article explores the lessons learnt by Bangladeshi women’s organisations through their involvement. It suggests that these struggles gave a new and more public meaning to discussions on sexuality and sexual rights that had already been taking place within the women’s movement.

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