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Cow Steroids Rampant In Bangladeshi Sex Industry

First Posted: 07/07/10 01:55 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 06:00 PM ET

Sex Workers

Young female prostitutes in Bangladesh have taken to using cow steroids in an effort to appear older and, in some cases, nourish themselves.

In a country with overwhelming poverty and malnourishment, scores of sex workers are using the drug, called Oradexon, which plumps up the face and body, and was originally intended to fatten up cows, the AFP reported in an article on the drug's prevalence this week. With many prostitutes also severely malnourished, the drug -- which costs less than $1 for 100 tablets -- seemingly serves as a cheap substitute for food.

Unfortunately, health authorities say most sex workers are unaware of the severe problems use of the drug can lead to, including heart disease, obesity, kidney failure, osteoporosis and even heart failure. It is also extremely addictive and causes intense withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and skin rashes.

In April a writer for the Guardian took a first-hand look at the disturbing conditions for sex workers in Bangladesh and the use of the drug among girls there:

No one is quite sure how long Oradexon has been a feature of life in the brothels, but it has been a while; long enough for the sardarni, or brothel caretakers, to have found out that there can be long-term health implications, and to have chosen to ignore them.

ActionAid, a British charity dedicated to fighting poverty, has started a campaign in brothels there to raise awareness of the dangers the drug poses. In a report published in April the organization said it had found that "Oradexon is used by almost 90 per cent of girls in most brothels in Bangladesh and found the age range of girls who take the drug is 15-35 years."

To learn more about the issue check out ActionAid's report.

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Filed by Alexander Corwin  |