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Sex + Relationships

Bangladeshis Don’t Have Sex: What Taboo Has Really Taught Me



Bangladeshis don’t have sex. They just don’t, and I know this for a fact.

A lot of the people in my direct friend group have had sex, and they make it sound great. But given the fact that I am part of a country of people that don’t talk about, don’t think about, and don’t have sex, I have no idea what sex will ever be like. Before I get into that, I should probably explain why Bangladeshis don’t have sex.

Bangladeshis don’t have sex because it’s not part of The Plan. What is The Plan? The plan is to be born (somehow), become educated, get a job, marry someone you don’t know, and then have your own kids (somehow). 

I thought I always understood The Plan and thought my life would be structured the same way. But then I moved to America, and this country doesn’t have a Plan. They have something else. Something called I Do Whatever the Hell I Want.

I Do Whatever the Hell I Want (hereby shortened to Whatever) is not nearly as structured as the plan, and answers the questions The Plan never does. Where did I come from? Sex. And how will I have kids? Sex. Thanks to America’s Whatever initiative, I have learned where babies come from.

So why couldn’t I learn where babies came from my own parents? Why did I need to learn it from kids at school? Why did I learn about male and female sex organs in hushed whispers?

Because Bangladeshis don’t have sex. We don’t have sex, we don’t talk about, and we surely do not think about it. There is a great stigma against sex and sexual health in Bangladesh, and while there have been more programs centered around providing women with sexual health information recently, there are still many men and women that do not know about sex or about contraception.

Sex taboo is incredibly widespread in Bangladesh and has to do with the conservative nature of the predominantly Muslim country. The Plan has been ingrained into Bangladeshis, and has forced them to adapt to a culture that doesn’t discuss sex. I was sure for the longest time that Bangladeshis didn’t have sex because the idea of sex seemed so scandalous for Bangladeshis.

Even before I knew where babies came from, I had already adapted to sexual stigma because I was convinced that it was something too risque to talk about with my parents. There are clear cultural differences between America and Bangladesh, and sexual taboo is one of the biggest differences.

Due to being so rooted in the rules of cultural propriety and Islam, Bangladeshis are convinced that it is not appropriate to be open about sex. But what can be more natural and human-like than sex? Sex affects nearly all individuals within a population and should not be left as a mystery. I know that if I hadn’t been in America when I learned about sex, I don’t think I would’ve ever properly learned about it.

A tradition of arranged marriage and hushed conversations about “personal matters” creates a culture of silence regarding sex. The Plan strictly states that you get married and then have kids. There is no discussion of sex, no culture of learning about sex; there is only the product of sex: a child.

Bangladeshis don’t have sex in that they don’t have sex in the same way that many other people of other countries have sex. If sex in general is not spoken about in Bangladesh let alone sex for pleasure. There is more to sex than just making babies, and I think Bangladeshis have not accepted that.The fact that two people can talk about what they want out of a sexual experience or relationship is not supported in Bangladesh, and that needs to change.

Communication is very important to healthy sexual relationships, but sexual taboo gets in the way of that. Bangladeshis don’t have sex is the only way I could explain sex in Bangladesh, but the truth is, Bangladeshis don’t talk about sex and they don’t want to either. The stigmatization of sex is widespread and should not be so present. It puts pressure on people to keep their questions at bay and prevents healthy sexual relationships.

Ila Mostafa is currently a Neuroscience major and Biology minor at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. She enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her family. She is usually either starting a new story without finishing an older one or studying. Ila hopes to go to graduate school and eventually do research on Parkinson's Disease.
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