Suitable for 18+

Talking about sex in Dhaka

Rabeya Sarkar Rima and Shopn Akthe openly discuss sex
"We should not be so ashamed to talk about sex. It's the origin of the world. If women would not give birth, the world would stop," says 25-year-old Rabeya. A group of young women in Bangladesh are trying to challenge the taboo around the topic.

Rabeya Sarkar Rima is part of a discussion group of young women talking about issues surrounding growing up in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The group is the brainchild of anthropologist Rahnuma Ahmed, a former university professor.

"We discuss many things: work, parents, our bodies and yes, sex too. In this country, if sex is discussed at all, it's often in a very middle class patronizing manner. I think this is because people fear the energy of adolescents, says Rahnuma.

Giving birth
Another young woman in the group, Shopna, wishes she’d known more about birth control when she was a teenager. She was 14 when her parents married her to a man 13 years older than herself. 'He was good to me. For the first three months I didn't want to have sex but he didn't force me.'

And when they finally did, Shopna got pregnant straight away. 'I was only 15, I had no idea why I was vomiting. My mother took me to a doctor, who then told us I was already three months on the way. I started crying. I was still in school, I didn't want to give birth!' Shopna now advises all her young friends and relatives to use birth control.

Rabeya got married a few months ago. ‘I don’t want to have children, so I’ve told my husband to take precautions. It’s only a little trouble for him, and a lot of work for me. I don’t want to use any birth control pills or IUD. It could be painful or bad for my health. I don’t want that.’ She doesn’t believe she would have dared to be so outspoken if it weren’t for the fact she’d already discussed the matter openly with other women.

Read more about this story here.

Photo: Rabeya and Shopna in Dhaka