Contextualising sexual harassment of adolescent girls in Bangladesh
Violence against women is a social mechanism confirming women’s subordination in many societies. Sexual violence and harassment have various negative psychological impacts on girls, including a persistent feeling of insecurity and loss of self-esteem. This article aims to contextualize a particular form of sexual harassment, namely “eve teasing”, experienced by Bangladeshi adolescent girls (12–18 years) which emerged from a study of adolescent sexual behaviour carried out by young people. The study used qualitative methods and a participatory approach, including focus group discussions, key informant interviews and observation. Despite taboos, unmarried adolescents actively seek information about sex, erotic pleasure and romance. Information was easily available from videos, mobile phone clips and pornographic magazines, but reinforced gender inequality. “Eve teasing” was one outlet for boys’ sexual feelings; they gained pleasure from it and could show their masculinity. The girls disliked it and were afraid of being blamed for provoking it. Thus, “eve teasing” is a result of socio-cultural norms relating to sexuality, as well as a lack of access to sexual and reproductive health information and services in Bangladesh. These findings underscore the importance of comprehensive sexuality education that goes beyond a mere health focus and addresses gender norms and helps youth to gain social-sexual interaction skills.