Bangladesh's quaint town of Tangail stands in stark contrast to its infamous red light area that houses over hundreds of sex workers.
A majority of prostitutes in Kandapara slum are as young as twelve years old. They take medication to help gain weight and appear older.
Oradexon, a steroid which is used to fatten cattle, are increasingly used by teenagers in the brothels to develop their bodies. With customers paying as low as 50 Taka (60 cents), taking such medication improves the chance to generate more income. It's also believed that the drug keeps one strong, thereby enabling these girls to serve more clients per day.
In this brothel, customers always look for healthy girls, Hashi, a sex worker and mother-of-four, was quoted as saying by Reuters.
I take Oradexon. I need customers so I can pay my bills and loans. If I don't get any customers one day, I cannot eat in the next day. I wish to save some money for my son.
Consuming the drug on a regular basis also helps keep legal authorities away. Though prostitution was legalized in Bangladesh since 2000, women working in brothels are required to provide documents that prove they are above the legal age of 18.
Though these girls hail Oradexon as their lifeline, most of them are unaware of the health hazards associated with its misuse.
As the drug is highly addictive, the girls use it on a long term basis and thus suffer various ailments including high blood pressure, skin rashes, headaches and diabetes.
According to the report, a strip of ten Oradexon pills is easily available for 15 taka (18 cents) in the slums. Activists are now fighting to regulate distribution of the drug and have also launched a campaign to promote awareness of its dangers.
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