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Contact Admin. Gently, she smears pale concealer over her face with her fingertips and blends it into the skin. She checks her reflection in a small turquoise mirror, and breaks into a smile. But clamber past the crowds of wide-eyed girls squatting on red plastic buckets by the entrance to step inside, and you hear a different story.
Rupa waits tight in her bedroom, flicking absentmindedly between channels on the portable TV in the corner. While condom usage in Kandipara used to hover at about 40 per cent 20 years ago, following free distribution and peer awareness programmes, their popularity now appears to be on the decline. I only felt pain. She fell pregnant shortly after — but when her husband was killed in an accident at work, her family refused to take her back.
On many occasions, they flee their husbands and fall directly into the hands of the traffickers themselves, but we do hear about girls whose husbands sell them to the brothels directly.
For three days following her arrival at Kandipara, Rupa says she was locked in a room and beaten whenever she tried to leave. She was fed Oradexon — cow steroids — in a bid to force her body to develop and make her gain weight to look older. Customers also pay more for former child brides.
Azharul Islam is the Program Manager of Rights Jessore, an internationally funded Bangladeshi NGO working to counteract child trafficking both across the Bangladesh-India border and within the confines of the country itself.