A different life for children of sex workers in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, Save the Children has been protecting the children of sex workers and children affected by HIV and AIDS through our Chetona program. We’ve been working to keep these children safe from abuse, and improve their health and access to education. We’ve been training children and their communities on child rights so children can protect themselves and choose a different path to their parents.
Why protecting children of sex workers is important
Children born into Bangladeshi brothels or to sex workers face discrimination, poverty, and a likely future of sex work. Violence features predominately in their lives, and illness and death rates are high.
Many lose their parents to HIV and AIDS, which is devastating and which limits their access to enough food and an education. This makes them even more vulnerable to sex trafficking, homelessness and HIV and AIDS.
Save the Children's Chetona program
We've been building community-based child protection activities that support children and help parents protect their children.
We've established child protection committees in local communities, held community meetings and information sessions, and created child-friendly spaces and youth groups to give children a space to play and learn. We’ve also created peer groups for sex workers to learn from each other about protecting their children.
The power to change her life
Today Asha* has much to be proud of. She has meaningful work as the facilitator of a child-friendly space. She is sharing information on child rights that has the power to change lives. And she has the respect of her family and community.
“I see a dream to work for the children of my community. Chetona opened my eyes to do so.”
But Asha’s childhood was like many other children of sex workers in Bangladesh. She was bullied at school, neglected by her own family, and she grew up lonely and isolated. It was the Chetona program that helped her understand her own rights as a child, and that protecting children is paramount to giving them a future outside of sex work.
Asha is a passionate learner and a leader, and she now shares her learning about child protection, child marriage and abuse with the children who come to her child-friendly space.
“My work has earned me a lot of respect from my friends and family. I am no longer lonely, I have the children and a host of other people who just love me for who I am,” says Asha.
How we know we're making a difference
We’ve been working with the children of sex workers in Bangladesh since 2014. The impacts of this work have been life-changing.
Children have been trained on their rights and equipped with life skills that allow them to take ownership of their future – 80% of children we worked with know how to report abuse and almost 70% have the information and confidence to protect themselves.
In the communities where we work, 17 child protection committees have led to almost 86% of children accessing healthcare, almost 50% receiving psychological care, and more than 92% accessing some form of education.
Mothers and caregivers received training in positive parenting, child protection, nutrition and health. With 80% of mothers and caregivers now informed about child protection, many have reported a change in how they keep children safe from harm.
In 2018, a new phase of the Chetona program will focus on reducing violence against children, in particular children with disabilities and children affected by AIDS. The project will build children’s resilience against violence, support families and communities to protect children, and strengthen local and national child protection systems.
Who makes our program possible
This program is funded by the Australian Government. Through the government’s overseas aid program, Australians are providing children and families in Bangladesh and around the world with the chance to achieve a brighter future. Find out more about how Australian Aid is changing lives here.
*Name has been changed
Banner image: Robert McKechnie/Save the Children