Treated as less than human in life, the death of a sex worker is without dignity as well. In one of the world's biggest brothels in Daulatdia of Rajbari district, their dead bodies are frequently tossed into unmarked graves or dumped in the river.
But today, Hamida Begum became the first sex worker from Daulatdia to receive a formal Islamic funeral. This broke a longstanding taboo in Muslim majority Bangladesh where prostitution is legal but regarded by many as immoral.
International news agency AFP reported that a large number of women gathered at Hamida's graveside, weeping for the 65-year-old's demise but also because of the symbolic breakthrough her burial represented.
"I never dreamed that she would get such an honourable farewell," said Hamida's 35-year-old daughter Laxmi, who followed her mother into the trade.
"My mother was treated like a human being," she added.
When Hamida died, her family planned to put her in an unmarked grave, which is standard practice for women in the prostitution business. But a coalition of sex workers persuaded the local police to talk religious leaders into giving her a proper burial where for decades Islamic leaders have rejected funeral prayers for sex workers because they view prostitution as immoral.
"The Imam was initially reluctant to lead the prayers. But we asked him whether Islam forbids anyone from taking part in the Janaza (funeral prayers) of a sex worker. He had no answer," said local police chief Ashiqur Rahman, who oversaw negotiations.
More than 200 mourners attended the religious ceremony, while a further 400 went to the post-funeral feast and prayers, police chief Rahman said.
"It was an unprecedented scene. People waited until late in the night to join the prayers. The eyes of sex workers welled up with tears," he added.
Local authorities, councilors and regional police leaders backed his effort "to break this discriminatory taboo," he said.
Stigma and shame
Bangladesh is one of the few Muslim countries in the world where prostitution is legal for women aged 18 or older and workers are required to hold a certificate stating they are adults and have given consent to the work.
The reality, however, is not as simple. Charities have reported that girls as young as seven years old are being groomed to be sold by sex traders, and have warned that trafficking of children for the trade is on the rise.
The police are often accused of accepting bribes from pimps and brothel owners to provide certification for girls much younger than 18.
Hamida was just 12 years old when she began sex work in Daulatdia, where more than 1,200 women and girls cater for up to 5,000 clients a day.
The site, one of around 12 legal brothels operating in the country, is a series of shacks spread across a warren of alleyways some 100 kilometres, or 70 miles, west of the capital.
Close to a busy road and rail junction, frequent visitors include local and long haul bus drivers, along with travellers passing through.
The brothel was established a century ago under British colonial rule, but moved to its current location, near a ferry station, after locals torched the old complex in 1988.
The sex workers and hundreds of their children live in concrete and tin shanties on a sandbank of the river Padma, often paying exorbitant rents to unscrupulous landlords.
For those forced into the trade, they can only leave when they've paid off inflated and exorbitant 'debts' to the pimps and madams that bought them
Even if this is possible, the stigma surrounding sex work means that many feel there is nowhere else to go.
Buried like dogs
For decades, when one of the sex workers died, their bodies would be thrown in the river, or buried in the mud.
In the early 2000s, local authorities cleaned up parts of a waste ground for unmarked graves, and the families would pay drug addicts to carry out the burial. The process usually took place during the dark of the night and without formal prayers.
"If we wanted to bury the dead in the morning, villagers would chase us with bamboo sticks," recalled Jhumur Begum, who heads a sex workers' group.
"It was as if a dog has died," said former sex worker Nili Begum, now a grandmother who lives in the brothel where her daughter works.
But there are hopes that Hamida's funeral will change things for all women in the brothels.
Hamida's daughter Laxmi, who operates from the two-room shanty that her mother bought with her savings, said, "I hope from now on every woman who works here, including me, gets a Janaza just the way my mother did," she said.
Jalil Fakir, a village councillor who attended the service, said the funerals for sex workers would go on in a bid to give fairer treatment in death.
"After all, who am I to judge her. If she has committed any sins, it will be Allah who will judge her in the afterlife, not any of us," he said.