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Excerpts of Testimony from “Ravaging the Vulnerable: Abuses Against Persons at High Risk of HIV Infection in Bangladesh”:
Names have been changed to protect witnesses.

Names have been changed to protect witnesses.

Jahan H., age 26:

We sex workers working in hotels are raped frequently by police, for example whenever the manager’s bribe is due, or when the police stay at the hotel overnight. The police say nasty things to me. One year ago, when a policeman was about to rape me, I tried to get him to use a condom. The policeman said, “Why should I use a condom with you, you magi [whore]? You are not my wife. I don’t care about your children.”

About 3 months ago, [a police officer] raped me and kept me locked in a room for two days . . . . Police have a special room in Hotel Sonar Bangla for sex. He took me there and beat me with a belt . . . He raped me seven times and had sex in different styles. I refused to have anal sex, and he beat me. There were three other people who joined him during the two days I was with him. They also forced me to have sex with them. These were influential people…local mastans. During the two days I was kept in the room, I was given food…some paratha [a flatbread]…only once . . . .

About three months ago, when I was leaving the hotel, some mastans forced me to go to [a warehouse]. Seven to eight men were there altogether. They were drinking and one by one they raped me the entire night. I tried to get them not to rape me by saying I was sick with syphilis and they might get something. [All the men raped her despite her attempts to resist.] . . . .

I’m a woman. I have a right to live like other women. But my identity is as a sex worker and not as a human being. No one likes me, everybody hates me.

Mohammad H., age 17:

Some police really hate hijras [a community of men who take on feminine behavior and dress] and men who have sex with men. They create problems for us. If they see any hijra or man who has sex with men, they arrest us and start to beat us . . . . When I talk, my voice is a bit female and when I walk, I walk like a hijra and that is why the police arrest me . . . .

Police beat me up at least three to four times each month and rape me two to three times each month . . . . About two months ago, before Ramadan, one police took me over to a police camp near Rajshahi University and five policemen raped me and then beat me . . . . Another time, about three months ago, I was arrested by police and taken to a police camp and then from there to a sugar cane field. Four people raped me. I thought I could not continue and feared that a fifth person would rape me so I ran away. I was completely naked. I had to go to my house by [way of] the outside of town. I was most recently raped by police three or four days ago. This happened by the Padma river, near some trees by the riverbank. I didn’t file a complaint. If I go to the police with a complaint, they’ll never take it. If I go to police with a complaint, they will just say you are a hijra, so why are you making a complaint?

Mastans often rob me at knifepoint at the riverbank cruising area and sometimes steal my shirt. They also rape me and call me “hijra, hijra, hijra.” This happens two to three times each week. Five months ago, in the riverbank area, six to seven mastans attacked me and took my money. I had very little. They cut my shirt with a knife and then beat me and raped me. I started crying and they beat me some more and told me that they would beat me more when I cried.

Other boys won’t play football or cricket with me but just call me names like hijra. I can’t get a job. Even if I wanted to do a little job, like cooking in a restaurant, the hotel owner won’t accept me because they say I have sex with other men and that is against Islam. I also can’t attend social gatherings because I am teased and called hijra.

Ali. L., age 30:

[Describing his work as a peer educator]: When I go to the cruising spot, I sell condoms, show them how to use them, educate them about HIV/AIDS/STDs. If someone asks me why he should use condoms then I explain why. Six months ago I went to a cruising spot . . . . The police caught me and hit me. They didn’t even give me a chance to explain. They hit me with a cane, with their gun, they kicked me and slapped me and pulled my hair and pulled on my collar and the waistline of my pants. They called me sala [wife’s younger brother; an epithet], mother-fucker, bastard. They said that I was a sex worker. I said I was working for HIV/AIDS prevention. They asked to see my ID card but I had forgotten it that day. They took me to jail. After I promised that I would never go to cruising spots again, they let me go. It creates a big problem for condom distribution. The police think we promote sex work.