Sex Workers and Condom Use: the political economy of HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh.
A study was undertaken in Madaripur brothel to understand condom use reality within the social context of the commercial sex workers' (CSW) lives in the brothel, and to critically analyze BRAC's HIV/AIDS programme's effectiveness in condom promotion. It was found that the chukris (bonded sex workers) were controlled by the sardarnis (madam) and the sardarnis did not promote condom use among the chukris as most of them (sardarnis) only bothered about money and about keeping a high client flow to the chukris, in context of most of the clients refusing to use condoms and even being willing to pay double the rate for not using condoms. The older sex workers were less in demand, and did not have the financial power to bargain condom use with the clients. The HIV/AIDS programme, one of the two wings of BRAC's brothel based intervention was found over-shadowed by and preoccupied with the activities of the other wing, 'Microfinance'. Furthermore, for distributing condoms, the brothel based staff targeted only the bariwalis and sardarnis who belonged to the top of brothel hierarchy, and never tried to reach the chukris who consisted of the majority of the brothel community. Moreover, though BRAC was supposed to provide condoms to the CSWs at subsidized rate (100 condoms for Tk 10), the brothel based staff delivered it at much higher prices, Tk.20-25. Thus, BRAC's brothel based HIV/AIDS intervention was facing the opposite way of promoting condom use among the brothel based CSWs.
RED Working Paper No.4, Research and Evaluation Division, BRAC, Bangladesh. 40 pp.