In Conversation: Brishti Apa

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Brishti has not been able to pay her house rent for the last six months. She is worried that her landlord will kick her out of the house. She is thirty years old and has been involved with sex work for the last decade. 

A woman brought her to Dhaka with the promise that she would provide her a job as a houseworker. She ended up working at a policeman’s house at Jatra Bari. He was married to a woman who worked at a bank, and had children of his own. The policeman used to torture her while his wife was away at work and the children were at school. 

According to Brishti, her dark history is all about the police and now she knows their real faces. Back then, she did not know how to get out of the situation but now, she does.

Brishti laments over her lack of income at present. In the past, she earned around BDT 300-400 but now, she does not get any means of earning. She says that people in her line of work always consider their own sexual health and in order to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases, they use several means of protection such as pills and condoms. In an obvious tone, Brishti says that even if the men do not want to use condoms, she has to convince them to do so.

Sadly, she and her colleagues do not get necessary sleeping arrangements. During the day, they are allowed to stay at Day Centres, but they are left to their own devices during the night. Even in dire situations in sickness or after delivering a baby, they are not allowed to stay within the premises, especially during a time when they are supposed to be resting. By 5pm, they are removed from the office and are not allowed to stay for any longer. Even if there is someone sick and crying in pain, the restrictive rules are not adjusted. Brishti and her colleagues face a major inconvenience during the monsoon season due to the incessant rain. 

Brishti has two children — one boy and one girl. They live in her hometown and go to school there. She does not bring her children to Dhaka, but always tries her best to ensure their wellbeing and provides for them. She assured us that she does not plan on getting them involved in sex work.


Prepared by Shah Jaarin and Durdana Kamal


This piece was made in collaboration with Bodol and TransEnd.


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