‘Life for Rent’


Night is the meaning of life here. Don’t dare to feel I am talking about moonlit night. It’s about a place where fluorescent bulbs hesitate to light up the great darkness.  You have to go step by step by listening giggles and following Hindi songs. Cheap aroma or local fragrance continually defeated to hide smells of stinks. At this place, dreams never can lose its paths even by mistakes. But it certainly can turn into the ideal background for a horror blockbuster by following nearly naked heroine’s poster or staring into a photographs where a lady wearing red lipstick with her innocent eyes hanging over fungus wall.

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Four storied building’s busy staircases are lively by steps of clients. Girls for converting themselves as women putting all make up from her dearest make up box and keeps doubling lighten up their cheeks with cheap blusher. For killing hunger each moment they have drunk tears and fighting with each other to get same client for a night. Excess make up, vulgar cloths and even by showing off most of the female fascinated body parts these girls can not satisfied their MADAMs.

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In the race by standing full day beside the door dressed like this they have to show their madam their extra talent for hunting a client. While few of them get tired of being waiting and being rejected, lastly they may get one/two clients at the last moment of their very tiring publicity. Then the bargaining starts. It’s the bargaining of beauty, the outer shell. Minimum 100 Tk – to maximum 500 Tk depends on the job’s creativity and longevity.  Either a client comes for an hour, for a night or for several nights they never bother to enter into the corridor of these beautiful doll’s heart. They rather treated her as a toy of entertainment.

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As like being used for years after years these girls started feeling themselves as product. Product of modern day slavery. In the middle of these professionals there is also few girls common who uselessly try to hide their body with their small cloths, who will not look at any one’s eyes either for sorrow or for shame. These girls are new to the place, they been bought by madam one or two days ago. Betrayal boyfriend, step parents or their closest one play with their innocence and sold them in the castle for Tk 4000- 20000. Before realizing what had happened in her life her innocent soul has been captured by brothel’s reality. In between them there are girls who has been gang raped and our civilized society refused to accept her, so she finds her MADAM as mother and releasing all bitters of her life by the profession of sex worker.

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Fighting over getting men at night does not change relationship between themselves on the day. An unknown bonding for each other has tied them up and takes care of them in dear need. That’s why, when a girl out of frustration cut her full hand with blade just to torture herself, her roommate wipe it off and put medicine on it. A six feet by six feet room is world for 3-4 girls, so when customer leave they decorate the bed with flowery bed sheet or place artificial flower for adding beauty of it. Knowing a home never will come in their life still they care for their small room as like their house.

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By remaining in the strict guidance of Guards for several years these birds stop weaving their wings and thus they forgot how to fly. After earning 100 Tk per client 3-4 years passed thus but loans and buying money of madam does not meet up as these fates less girls can’t even calculate. If their luck is good enough few of them get little better madam who let them free after three to four years to do their business independently.

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The story does not change here. Again after doing free business the girl do same mistake by giving heart to a client. Then one day come when the trusted man flew with her all money, gold and faith. All the tiny battles she had within inside that do nothing but shape her emotions, make her able to drink her tears of blood. Stories of a brothel have many shapes. Many girls do not miss their Fazar prayer; many girls learn to recite Quran. Many girls penned their parents and send money monthly putting fake address in the envelope. Many girls forced to take a drug designed to fatten cattle for market name Oradexon.

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Their day passes by. One day visibly wrinkles can no longer hide by their heavy make up, then they started losing clients, then one night come when they had no one, and they become nanny of younger sex worker. Finally after death their bodies can be buried in a cemetery, though still in a separate one. But better than having their remains floating in the river covered by a sheet which previously practiced as ritual. Their existence remains in their tank which preserve full of their life memories, which lastly kept by their dear one if someone still have time to recall a sex worker.

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“Its been 12 years I am familiar to them. Not only as a photographer but also as a brother. In the photograph, I am seating with my one of the sister from Tangail brothel. Whenever I go there, she runs towards me by calling “Akash Bhai”, she brings sweet, tea and speaks and talked lot about her dreams. These girls are weak for affection as I once treated her as sister now she granted me as her brother. No one knows the story of those faceless girls who are sold by their boyfriend, husband or parents. This is one way journey to brothel a place that is everything to them. By documenting on them I would like to spread their story of pains which are only locked into their own madam’s castle. I can also recall about one girl from those uncountable faces. Unsurprisingly – and despite her name – Asha isn’t very hopeful for her own future. ‘I don’t think I’ll ever get married or have children,’ she says. ‘No one will marry me. If they did they’d only keep me for two or three days, and then they’d sell me back.’ She is more streetwise than some of the other girls here, many of whom share a tragic dream that one day a knight in shining Armour will arrive, to carry them off; then they will marry him, have his babies and love him forever. I wish there would be a knight in shining Armour will surly arrive, to carry them off from this living hell! I wish and I really wish!” – GMB Akash

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79 thoughts on “‘Life for Rent’

  1. What a tragedy, and I can’t understand how men could get any satisfaction from the misery of girls. Fantastic pictures, because you are telling their story, showing their pain, so they are not forgotten. You are a great brother, Akash. May they get a better future.

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    • When many little people in many small places do many small things, they can change the face of the world. I wish I have the capacity to disappear ‘sorrow’ from their life. Thanks my friend for feeling little bit of their pains.

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  2. Your pictures and words are a beautiful show and explanation of the tragic lives of these women. We all do what we know, this is them conforming to society and it’s expectations of them. Maybe one day we can all break free.

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    • I Witnessed how everyday some dreams were massacred in the hell of the castle still I do believe change can happen, our affection, love and little sacrifice can change the cruel face of this world. Thanks for feeling it in your heart my friend.

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  3. Really really a brilliant work with touchy descriptions. I was hust speechless for some miniutes after reading the description. I am remorseful to be a member of that so called “civil society.”

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  4. Just watching this blog for first time, whoever you are, if you are their brother then you are a brother of me, Brother your pictures tell a million stories, hats off!!!

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  5. Akash
    I like your photos since the days i worked in New Age for a short time in 2005. But as i am not regular in internet i could not follow your ventures. But i remembered your name all the time. Recently i have re-discovered you through a FB link. I visited your website a month ago, almost thoroughly. Although i liked almost all the sections i have seen (i haven’t seen all the sections yet…better to enjoy slowly), i would like to mention, two series — ‘Life is a circus’ and ‘Dark alleys’ — i liked most.
    Your photos touch my heart. Carry on.
    Banna

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    • Hello Banna,

      Very happy to be connected with you again. Thanks that you always appreciate my works. Hope your life is going well too. Thank you for your lovely letter and hope we will be connected.

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  6. I must say, I really admire and respect your work as a photojournalist. I’ve been following your blog for a while, and always find fascinating and raw insight in to other lives – but this one really, really touched me. I can see the broken, trampled souls in their faces, and I am sickened by the people who fund and support the sex trade. Keep doing what you’re doing; forcing people to see what’s really happening behind closed doors. Thank you.

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    • Thanks for your beautiful words and believing in me and my work. We all can do something for these deprive people of the world. This something is my affection, attention, love, act which will refill their emptiness by happiness.
      Hope together we can vanish atleast sorrows of few. My best wishes to you and thanks for putting your encouraging remarks.

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  7. Impressive! I followed the stories of Born into brothels and very much appreciate your efforts to make us conscious of sufference and pain between the rejected ones. Thank for sharing!

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  8. I cann’t express my impression……….it’s a great work on human trafficking! Indeed. Feeling really proud…still some of us carrying humanity. Best wishes for u.

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  9. Brilliant work, no doubt. But all of your works I think will be just worthless if end up with just thanks, greetings, praise etc.
    If we really feel for those wretched sisters we should find out the dons of human trafficking. I hardly believe those madams are all in all. There must be the pythons behind the scenario. Can we take steps to unmask those pythons and take a real step to show our affection?

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  10. I wish there would be a knight in shining armour will surly arrives, to carry them off from this living hell! I wish and I really wish!”

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  11. I saw in the News on BBC that India is the worse place to live for a woman and now I see why, we can just leave it there like this we have to share it around and let the world see what India is really like, and how they treat women there. I am so blasted vex, it hurt me to see this.

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  12. I m just speechless…while going through the pictures, I was wondering…how you managed yourself to capture these ugly truth one after another. There were may be number of girls, with their different life stories, from different backgrounds…but now their destination is just fixed in those dark rooms yet on colorful beds…

    thank you so much for sharing! you are amazing!

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  13. This documentary is ample to change the viewpoint of these ill fated human . the world is not a good place to live for every individual.
    Salute & good luck to you sir;
    God Bless.

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  14. Pingback: Life for Rent | Photojournalist: Gmb Akash | Johannan blogi

  15. Really a very nice initiative by telling their story. This little story made me sad about all these women and girls who are intentionally or unintentionally are getting involved in these work.

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  16. Truly speechless….it must be awful to bare such pain. The least we can do as a society is to stop hating these women, and at least try to put ourself in their shoes and understand how painfull it can be to lead a life like this. I really do respect your courage for speaking up on behalf of these ladies. Keep up the good work.

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