Vol. 4 Num 36 Wed. July 02, 2003  
Star Chittagong

Sexual behaviour in slum

In June 27 seminar of Bangladesh Research Society, Prof Quddus of Sociology from Chittagong University presented a paper on the sexual behaviour in the slums of Chittagong, a paper which quizzed and puzzled many present.

Prof Quddus explained that he had collected the data by interviewing 208 males, and not a single woman, who felt shy confessing to their sexual acts. Probably because, as he said, sex is a pleasure for men, and an obligation for women.

He, quite understandably, discussed occurrences of sexual acts in three categories: Pre-marital sex, marital sex and extra-marital sex. Much of his information was extraordinary as to remove our long-held notions about sexual relations. He said that while pre-marital sex between cousins is well over 50 per cent in the village, in the city slum it is less, mainly because here the cousins are not nearby. That is not really an eye-opener, but what he found about sex along the in-law line is interesting: The debar-bhavi (brother-in-law and brother's wife) connection, contrary to our notion, is not phenomenally strong. He also found out that in the case of pre-marital early sex, most occurrences took place between young males and their elderly female relatives who belonged to the aunt group. Since he could not interview the womenfolk, it was not known how it went with the fairer sex.

Prof Quddus related that the interviewees hardly showed any knowledge of AIDS, or if they did, they did not know how the disease expressed itself on the human body. But he affirmed that a big percentage of the interviewees were suffering from some kind of sexual transmitted diseases(STD).

Here, as he pointed out, the males were prompt to blame the women for suffering from typical female diseases, whereas the women could have been actually infected by STD through their male partners.

From his findings it also came to light that having travelled to the city for jobs, the village young men enjoyed their liberty out of the clutch of guardians for the first time, and this easily led them to commit sexual misadventures.

Prof Quddus also specified that he did not notice any big difference between the Hindus and the Muslims in respect of proliferating sex illegally.

Most extra-marital sex in the slum occurred when the husband went out for work and the wife stayed home, which implies that a lot of illicit relations thrive on diurnal opportunities rather than nocturnal.

Prof Quddus's findings could have been more substantial, if he had mentioned how the sexual behaviour in the slum area was different from that in the larger society, or which particular slum he had chosen to collect his data from.

Another omission in his assessment was that he did not seem to realise that much of the sexual activity in the slum was related to organised crime syndicate that manages the slum life from behind the scene. He also failed to mention the percentage of children involved in pedophilia or child-sex trade in the slum.