Breaking the Shame

In Bangladesh, despite exposure to comprehensive sexual education in schools or to other activities promoting sexual health and reproductive rights (SRHR), adolescents remain confused as they try to navigate through the expectations of their parents, teachers, religious leaders, and role models.

Organisations in Bangladesh who facilitate comprehensive sexual education programmes for young people experience a discrepancy between their objectives and the actual outcome of their efforts. These organisations express a desire for more insight into the varied understandings of sexuality in young people and for better tools to both elicit such understandings, as well as to improve interactional competencies in issues concerning sexuality. A theoretical reflection is needed regarding the ways adolescents perceive SRHR education within the cultural context of Bangladesh where their realities are heavily influenced by religious or cultural norms, and in social relations with peers, parents, and teachers, and also potential partners.

This project, which will run from September 2015 to August 2018, endeavours to examine the theoretical concepts behind sexual education programmes and compare them with data gathered qualitatively and checked partly through quantitative analysis. It will try to understand the needs and experiences of young people regarding sexuality and relationships. It will test different tools of elicitation to develop a comprehensive understanding of young peoples’ views on sexual issues. Simultaneously it will aim to identify factors and barriers to building competence. Moreover, the project aims to go beyond knowledge acquisition, by developing and testing new and/or refined tools of competence building. The outcome will be a thorough overview of SRHR issues among the adolescent population in Bangladesh, as well as a tool to bridge the gap which groups working on these issues have faced in the past.

Activities (September 2015 – April 2016)

Kick-off workshop: Three days long brainstorming workshop with all the partners of the Breaking the Shame project.
Partners’ meeting: Unite for Body Rights (UBR) and BRAC’s gender justice and diversity programme met at JPGSPH to discuss their ongoing activities.
Curricular review: Review of current sexual health and reproductive rights (SRHR) adolescent education materials in Bangladesh.
Open public talk on sexuality in contemporary Bangladesh: A day-long seminar was held at Jahangirnagar University on sexuality in the context of Bangladesh.
Qualitative training session on data collection, coding, and Atlas.ti entry: Breaking the Shame team underwent a day-long training for members on how to perform qualitative studies.
Stakeholder mapping: Ongoing stakeholder interviews in the form of KIIs and focus group discussions to learn about current and past SRHR adolescent education tools.
Class observation: Field visits to observe SRHR education sessions.
Literature Review: Review of the SRHR adolescent education literature for the project proposal and for stakeholder mapping.

• Radboud University, the Netherlands
• Unite for Body Rights, Bangladesh
• Gender Justice and Diversity Programme, BRAC
Donor: NOW-WOTRO Science for Global Development

Kick-Off Workshop
Breaking the Shame held their kick-off meeting from 4-6 October 2015 at the James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University. All the partners from the Netherlands and Bangladesh joined the meeting, which included one brainstorming session with the stakeholders and another one with representatives from sexual minority groups in Bangladesh. Different organisations who are working in the field of gender and sexual health and reproductive rights for adolescents were present at the brainstorming session. Participants discussed the different tools for elicitation and identified the existing gaps. The session also tried to point out the challenges faced during the dissemination of information regarding these issues. The kick off meeting was facilitated by Els Rommes from Radboud University, Netherlands.

The workshop had the following objectives:
To give an overview of the project to the partners including how different projects can build on each other.

To distribute the responsibilities among partners.

To identify the exiting tools used by different stakeholders for gathering and disseminating information on SRHR issues pertaining to adolescents and the challenges they are facing to use these tools.

To know the experience of LGBT community regarding SRHR issues