“My name is Sanika*. My father had married to another woman. He didn’t live with us. My mother used to work for a family. My mother, grandmother, my younger brother and me, we all lived together with that family where my mother worked as a house helper. I was very young at that time. I cannot remember my age. One day I went outside the house and saw many children were playing. I joined them and went to the train station. We all went inside the train, playing. I didn’t notice that the train started to move. I left my family behind. I didn’t know how to return to my family.
Since then I started living in the street. I begged to survive and slept in people’s stairs or in stations. People were very rude toward me. Sometimes they gave me food but most of the time they didn’t. I was with other children. I couldn’t settle my mind in a place for very long. I always moved from one place to another. One day a woman brought me to the Mazar, a religious shrine in Dhaka. There I made friends with other boys and girls. Most of them were drug addicted. They also offered drugs to me. Through their encouragement, I also started taking drugs. One day the police caught us and put us into jail. I was in the jail for ten years. Many girls were able to come out with their family’s help. But, with no family meembers to help me, I had to stay there. One day we escaped. All of us, around 150 girls, ran away from the jail. I came back to the Mazar.
I was living there with other girls. There I met my husband. He fell in love with me and married me. He was very kind and caring for first few months. But when I couldn’t pay him dowry then he started abusing me. He always hit me, tortured me severely. My eldest son was born. But my husband became more abusive. There I met another man who didn’t have one leg. He wanted to marry me. One day I left my son with my husband and ran away with that man and married him. But his family didn’t accept me. He rented a house and lived with me. There I gave birth to my second son. When my son was one year old then my second husband died. I returned back to shrine. There a woman told me that she would give me a job. I put my son in a child care centre and went with that woman. The woman took me to the largest brothel of Bangladesh. When I found out that it was a brothel and the woman sold me to the Madam, I ran away that very day. I came back to the centre where I kept my son. I started living in the shrine. Sometimes I begged, sometimes I earned by pulling lame person’s cart so they could beg. When my husband heard that I was living at the shrine, he came back to me. He had already married again, but he rented a house for me and we stayed together. But most of the time he stays with his second wife.
Now I have four sons. Two are living with me and other two live with my mother in-law. My husband doesn’t provide for me and my children. I am glad that God provided a work place for me. In my early years I could never settle my mind in one place for long time. But I don’t know how I fixed my mind here at Basha Enterprises. I am working here for more than three years. Everyone’s love and care has helped to me to have a deep root in Basha Enterprises. I want to continue my work here as long as Basha Boutique exists.”
*name changed to protect identity