In Conversation: Ruby Apa

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According to Ruby, she has been homeless all her life. After her parent’s death, at the age of 7 or 8, she started living in Aparajeyo Bangladesh which is located in Arambagh, Sadarghat. Later on, she moved to Chinnomul Kishore Sangstha and resided there till the age of 13. However, that organisation soon closed down and she started struggling to find a place which she could call her home. Eventually she was left with no choice but to live in the streets.

Due to the Covid-19 situation, it’s almost impossible for her to reside in the place she used to live in before. According to Ruby Apa, the owner of those places now scram her away. As a result, she is forced to spend most of her nights sitting or standing under bridges.

When asked how she got into this profession, she said that she’s been doing sex work since the age of 13. Being a homeless 13 year old, this profession was the only option for her to stay alive and not starve to death.

She never earned a sufficient amount of money through her job. Before the pandemic hit, she would earn around 500/600 taka in a day, depending on the availability of work. But now there’s nothing but uncertainty when it comes to her finances.

The work itself comes with tremendous risks such as the transmission of STIs and STDs. She expressed how customers rarely cooperate when it comes to using protections. She often has to go through verbal and even physical abuse if she asks them to use condoms or refuses to work without using them.

Ruby is a mother of 3 sons and a daughter. Though her sons live with her, her daughter stays with a relative of hers. She sends her some money whenever she can. Like any other mother, she has got big dreams for her kids. She wants them to live a healthy and sufficient life no matter how tough the situation becomes. That’s why she wants to make sure that her kids are attending school as long as she can bear.


Prepared by Rezwana Saima and Nuha Mustafa

This piece was made in collaboration with Bodol and TransEnd.

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