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My name is Jaya, working as a peer educator in this programme. I got married in ’93. For 5-6 yrs I worked in garment factory where I got a meager salary. My husband was in debt and we could not find any means of clearing these debts.  This is how I entered into this profession. After this I could earn well and clear our debts.

One of my friends Vijaya Kumari introduced me to this organization. Before coming here, I never knew anything about HIV and condom usage.  Now I am completely aware of the consequences of contracting HIV and also how to protect ourselves from this thing. Only after coming here I came to know there are many other women like me who are forced to enter into this profession due to circumstances.

I feel that I should help people like me in this profession and so I joined as a peer educator. This has helped me to face the society, police and also the goondas who earlier harassed us. I go to the rescue of any of our peers in times if crises. We have also formed a crises management team which would help our peers in times of difficulty due to harassment from goondas,police and public. Due to my age I may not be able to continue in this profession for a long time so I am keen on learning tailoring or embroidering or any other skills which would help me in my livelihood.


My name is Lakshmi and I am working in this organization as a peer educator. I got married 16 yrs back and am living with my husband and have three sons. My husband used to earn a very meager sum which was not enough to provide for my sons education. No one came forward to help me. As I am an illiterate I was forced to enter into this profession.

I learnt about HIV, AIDS from one of the NGOs. I met Parvathamma, working as a peer educator in BCT and she brought me here. Once I came here to get treatment for STDs and got cured completely. I was impressed by the services provided by this organization to the women in my community. This motivated me to become a peer educator.

The women in this profession have to face a lot of difficulties, both from the family members as well as the general public. Once we get old, it becomes difficult to earn.  So we need to save a lot for our future. My children should never come to know that I am in this profession and my desire is to see that they study well and become responsible citizens one day.


My name is Asha and I was born in Thaverekere. I have studies upto 7th std. My father expired 3 yrs back and I have two younger sisters. As he was the sole breadwinner I had to discontinue my studies and started working in a garment factory. I had to come into this profession as the money I was earning there was not enough to feed my family member.

I came to know about this organization during my work at the garment factory. Only then I learnt about use of condoms and also about STDs and HIV/AIDS. I want to save money in order to get my sister married. I also would like to get married and settled down in life.


I got married when I was 16 yrs old. My husband left me when I was pregnant. I did not get any help at that time from my in-laws. After this I started staying with my mother. Later I gave birth to my son. It was very difficult to support the child as my mother did not have a source of income. This is how I entered into this profession.

I met Rani Amma who was working as a peer educator at BCT. She brought me to this DIC where I could talk freely to the counselors and other staff about the difficulties we face in the field. Here I learnt about STDs, HIV/AIDS and the usage of condoms. I also met many women like me who are forced into this profession due to the circumstances. This is how I came to know that there are many like me who are in need of help. I decided to do whatever I can for these people.

I appreciate the staff of BCT for the love and care that they have provided to me in all these years. I could share everything with them. I felt that girls like me will be benefited if they can get services offered in this organization and so decided to spread the message to all my friends and other I came across in my profession. After I came here, feel more confident and bold to face the society. I could also learn more about our rights through the lawyers who spoke to us here. I now feel that I too have place in society.

My only ambition in life is to see that my son studies well and gets a respectable place in society. If I were educated I wouldn’t have been in this profession today. I came into this profession only to see that my son gets a good life. I pray to god that other women do not have to enter this profession due to their circumstances.


My name is Jaya Srinivas and I am working as a peer educator with BCT. I was born here in Bangalore and got married at the age of 18 yrs. I came into this profession as my husband could not provide any money to run the family and bring up the children. Initially I faced a lot of problems from the rowdies and goondas. I did not know anything about condoms and so never used one.

In 2004, I started getting fever again and again and also suffered from vomiting for a long time. None of my family members knew that I am in this profession. During this time I was introduced to BCT through on of my friends. The counselor here advised me get my blood tested for HIV. Later I came to know that I was HIV+. They referred me to an organization called Freedom Foundation where I could get free treatment and now I am quite healthy.

My desire is to work with women infected with HIV and to give them hope and promote positive living. I also want to help the community members by giving them information about HIV and condom usage.


My name is Shailaja. I got married 15 yrs back and have a son. My husband left me long back and got married to another woman. As I am a semi-literate I could not get any work to earn a living and bring up my child.

In 1999, I came into this profession. I fell sick after 2 yrs.  Doctors advised me to get a blood test done and I came to know that I am HIV+. I was very scared at that time and my mother took me to various hospitals. Later I was treated in Freedom Foundation, they treated me very well.

In 2003, I as introduced to the staff of BCT. The staff here gave me a lot of information about how I should take care of myself. They also encouraged me to become a peer educator. I have brought many women who were suffering like me to BCT and also helped them to avail all services including nutritious food provided by this organization to the people who are infected by HIV. The staff her have visited me many times when I was bedridden. I am quite healthy now as I am on ART. The staffs here accompany me to get my CD4 count checked every 6 months.

My desire now is to stay healthy and support my son as long as I can. I wish that one day the stigma and discrimination attached to women like me end.

Akamma inspires her friends

‘We would also like to go to your evening classes’ is a common refrain that Akkama hears these days. Many of her friends have approached her in the past few months to get details of the ‘Jnanajyothi’ classes that she attends in the evening. And why shouldn’t they, she has become an A+ student at school, is proficient at computers and feels a world of difference in her confidence and communication skills, all thanks to Jnanajyothi.

Akamma is in class 9th in St. Marys JVS School at Tumrikoppa. She belongs to the Lamani community of tribals, has three siblings and it’s a wonder that her parents can afford to send her to school, dependent as they are on agriculture. Her mother turned to sex work in desperation to supplement the meager income thus ensuring that her children receive formal education.

Last year a worker from BCT came to discuss her academic future with her parents and suggested that she enroll in Jnanajyothi. Today she is so good at computers that she assists her classmates and aspires to be a software engineer one day. She also feels more self-assured, aware of her surroundings and is not as shy while communicating in large gatherings or with strangers.

Cleanliness is………….

Kirti remembers those days when the ‘madam’ had come home to convince her parents to send her to after school classes, Jnanajyothi. Her parents, farmers had seen no point in spending more time on studying when she could help her mother around the house.

Kirti remembers being hesitant in joining up, not very regular in classes. Her teacher remembers her as a shy child who responded to questions rarely, not very careful about her appearance or hygiene.

Today, a year to that day, Kirti has transformed to a confident young person. She dresses impeccably, getting special commendation from her ‘madam’ for this, and has gone on to become a B+ student from her earlier C grade.

She has enjoyed this past year and is eagerly waiting to welcome new friends into her class.

“Sex Work by Chance Not by Choice”

The moistness in those unforgettable pair of penetrating eyes is too obvious to be ignored.  She rubs them every time she mentions about the undeniable reality of her life—that she is a sex worker. She is Shabana, a Peer Educator working with Bhoruka Charitable Trust (BCT). Let us listen to her story in her own words……..

“Fate had it that I become a Sex Worker. I was not lucky to be born rich. I was born to a very poor family who had meager earnings unable to make both ends meet. My parents had an inter-caste marriage. My father was a Muslim and mother was a Hindu. They were married amid strong opposition from their families. My father worked in a cycle shop and my mother was a fruit vendor. I was the eldest of the 5 children all of whom were girls.

Trouble started when they were not able to earn enough money. It was a common sight to see my parents blaming each other for not earning enough. There was no financial or emotional support from both the families. They took up drinking and forced me to give money for their drinking. I was only13 years then. They physically abused me for not giving them money. I tried picking onions from the RMC Yard and sell them and earn from them. But that hardly fetched me any money. It was during this time that I got into the habit of chewing tobacco.

Unable to bear the trauma of my parents, I sought the help of my neighbors and some well wishers. Since I had no schooling nor did I have any skills to take up jobs I was forced into sex work. My well wishers introduced me to some of the brothel madams. I had not attained my puberty then. I did not know what was good and what was bad.

Slowly I started enjoying this work as I would get hand full of money. Now I was able to give money for my parents and look after my siblings. Life looked colorful as I would get various gifts from my clients and I could buy anything for myself with my fat earnings. Slowly I took to other vices like alcoholism. However, my conscience pricked me and I felt I had lost the track of my life. But again I accuse my parents for this condition of mine.

Problems again started surfacing once I lost my parents due to alcoholism. I had to shoulder the burden of all my sisters. It was inevitable for two of my sisters who had to enter into this line.

My main area of operation was the RMC Yard and surrounding areas of Yeshwantpur. One day I happened to come across one Sex worker like me near the RMC Yard, who spoke to me friendly and also said that she would show me a place where I could meet some more of them like me. Initially I was reluctant. I did not really feel the need for that as felt I was happy with whatever contacts I had. But the repeated contacts I had with her made me visit the place once. This place was BCT.

I was taken aback when I entered the BCT Office. I thought it was a place where I would be identified and that I should be alert not to give out anything. But when the counselor spoke to me I really felt refreshing. I learned of the possibility of STIs and also of HIV/AIDS. In fear I went ahead and got my self examined for STIs in the clinic run by BCT. I was convinced of the need for safer sex practices. The doctor also asked me to go for HIV testing owing to my high risk behavior. When I got the HIV test done, I was shattered. Life seemed impossible to me. I was tested HIV positive. I was only 20 years then.

Through constant counseling and interventions I came to terms with my condition and learned about positive living. Seeing the benefits I received from BCT, I decided to join BCT as a peer educator and serve my community. I know many young girls like me who have entered the sex trade. I have made it sure that I approach all my friends convince them to come to the BCT Clinic and avail the services meant for them. I also make them aware about the safe sex practices. Serving the community and trying to make them aware about the seriousness of the problem is really a satisfying job.

During this period I also got to know a person who was interested in me, also HIV positive like me. We fell in love and got married. I have a child from that marriage. In fact, it was my husband who forced me into getting pregnant as he was very much interested in children. During the pregnancy, I was given health tips by the doctor. But during my delivery time, owing to my positive status none of the hospitals were ready to admit me. I enquired with all the nearby government hospitals only to listen to a big ‘NO’. Finally after several requests I was able to get admitted in Vani Vilas Hospital of Bangalore. Since I did not take the necessary treatment during my pregnancy, I fear that my child is also positive.

In the meantime my husband also ditched me saying that his mother did not approve of their marriage and that she wants a better match for her son. She is unaware about her son’s positive status.

Now I am left in the lurch. I know no road to take except coming back to this line of sex trade. I am forced to join this profession again, owing to the deteriorating financial status.  It is difficult for me to solicit in this location only as every one knows my status and avoids me including my sisters and family members. Hence I go to the Majestic area for soliciting.

Given the deteriorating health status and the worries and tensions of bringing up my child I am not able to solicit every day or regularly. This affects my living.

The only thing I look up to God is to bless my child with a healthy body. Let she not be HIV positive like me. I know the trauma of being HIV positive and the discrimination there by. But the uncertainty attached to this short-lived relief is a bitter pill to swallow.

People living and fighting with HIV and AIDS are often victims of stigma and social discrimination—often regardless of their economic status. However, a poor financial stand adds to the misery an HIV-infected person faces in society. Abandoned by my husband and living with a family that already has to feed 3 other mouths including my child, I am struggling to make my ends meet.

Given the very nature of their job, sex workers are the most vulnerable lot of the high-risk population. And since their entire economy depends on sexual activity with multiple partners, the aim of spreading AIDS awareness becomes all the more necessary. Very young girls are forced into prostitution, so do some thing to prevent this. After being in this profession when they grow old they have no one to look up to & no one to care for. So the government has to do something for these women.

I don’t wish to do this work any more. But, who will support my fatherless child? Which other job can fetch me 1000 bucks in an hour? And that too isn’t enough.”

“It’s all about the money,” Shabana says. And it truly is!