Daily Video

August 1, 2017

Ambitious girls ride the waves in Bangladesh’s beach town

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  • In the South Asian country of Bangladesh, poverty is widespread and girls are often married in their early teens. However, at the world’s longest beach and Bangladesh’s only beach town, which has one of the highest rates of poverty in the country, a group of girl surfers feel empowered when they might otherwise be expected to fulfill traditional roles in the house.
  • The group of 12 were the only girl surfers in their town of Cox’s Bazar. Bengali society is typically patriarchal and girls are restricted from participating in certain activities.
  • The girls have received criticism from conservative Muslims in their neighborhood. One imam at a local school said, “Girls have been told to stay out of boys’ sight. Girls are respectful beings, and they have been asked to stay hidden. So, if girls are surfing and go into the ocean, then a lot of people can see then. And that’s a sin. It’s not good.” However, one young girl surfer, Sobe Meheraz, said that the criticism didn’t scare her.
  • The girls were taught to surf by Rashed Alam after he found them selling eggs and jewelry on the beach. He later founded a surfing club for young boys and girls in the area.
  • Sobe Meheraz was the winner of an annual surfing competition sponsored by an American missionary. She gave the $248 prize money, equivalent to four months’ wages in Bangladesh, to her mother to help her family and donated the used surfboard she won to the boys’ and girls’ surfing club so that other girls can learn to surf like she did.

  1. Essential questions: How are the lives of young people around the world different from your life in the United States? How are they the same?
  2. What challenges do women and girls face in Bangladesh, which lacks much of the gender equality found in the United States (it is important to note that Bangladesh has had two female prime ministers)?
  3. How did the girls use surfing to counter some of these barriers?

Key Terms:

Islam: a monotheistic (worshipping one god) faith revealed through Muhammad the Prophet. People who practice Islam are called Muslims. 

imam: a person who leads prayers in a mosque; a religious leader in the Muslim faith

patriarchal: relating to a system of society controlled by men

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