By Meghna Mehra
Dipa Mahbuba is from Bangladesh and founder of Bangladeshi Asexuals, Ephiphania Visuals and Asexual Queer Activists Network For Asia. In her interview she talks about her struggle, acephobia and a lot more.
1. What inspired you to start the Bangladeshi asexual community?
Dipa: I have converted all the adversity around me to inspiration. In an extremist Muslim country, any attempt to break the norm means going to war with extremists. I am 32 years old. For me, my whole life has been synonymous of movement. Not marrying till now as a daughter of a South Asian middle-class family is like a war. Being alone for life long is also a war. The kiss and sex that people around me feel as ‘cupcake’, I show my middle finger on that which is not less than a war. And is it not a war to survive with sex-shaming? That’s why I have no fear of war. I started the Bangladeshi Asexuals Association, because I want the recognition of asexual people from society and state.
2. How are asexual treated in Bangladesh?
Dipa : I only found three more people who have asexual visibility in Bangladesh so far. The majority of people in Bangladesh are as well as l.g.b.t. T community also thinks that asexuality is a myth. So just to talk about our self is close to a movement. How strong a movement of four people can be? So my ambition is to make it as a movement for everyone, with asexual people from all over the Asia Pacific.
3. From which sources you got your knowledge about asexuality?
Dipa: From Google and different websites.
4. What is goal of Bangladeshi Asexuals?
Dipa-For now, We are doing social media camping for the visibility of asexual Bangladeshies. Arranging regular get-togethers. Besides this our special focus is to find those who are being pressured for marriage and are becoming vulnerable to family’s emotional/mental abuse. And to make arrangements for married asexual people who are confessing to rape to be by their side.
As well as, I have tried to connect with all the South Asian countries. We know we have political enmity between these countries. For example India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have visa bans. But we, asexual people’s are too marginalized that if we are to move this movement forward, we must unite.
5. Tell us more about the symposium organized by you
Dipa- Our symposium name was ‘Asexuality is not a Myth’, I would like to say from my position that why the idea came in my mind from my personal and family range. In past, I have repeatedly tried to come out to my family, but every time they said there is nothing in the world like asexuality for sure. From then to now, I have come to realize that in our society in everyone’s mind ‘Asexuality is nothing, more than a Myth’. Not only me, but this is also an idea that most of all asexual people struggle with. I believe, The first reason for the thought is our position at the bottom of the social hierarchy. As you know, sexuality is basically divided into two umbrellas. According to statistics, 99% of the world’s population lives in allosexual umbrellas and only 1 % of the population lives in asexual umbrellas. So they are the lowest in the number of genders and sexual politics.
Over the last two days symposium , after talking all the asexual activists from different Western & Asian countries and put together the following agendas. Looking forward to your feedback.
In the symposium ‘Asexuality is not a Myth’, we want to raise the below points:
• Worldwide, sexual education as well as asexual education should become mandatory from the primary level.
• On behalf of the Bangladesh Asexual community, we are declaring solidarity with all asexual communities around the world to criminalize sex-shaming on asexual people worldwide.
• We want to petition internationally to criminalize the provision of marital pressure to asexual people.
• We want to create global awareness about marital rape (male/female) against an asexual person and to include marital rape as a criminal act in the laws of all countries.
• We are declaring that the colonial curse Sodomy law, which we still carry, is in complete opposition to Bangladeshi asexuals and we declare solidarity to the people fighting against this law. We hope the law will be withdrawn one day but till then, we will raise awareness at the national and international levels to keep homoasexuals & transasexuals safe from this law.
6. Tell a bit about your struggle, how you realised that you are an asexual ?
Dipa- As I told you before, I have repeatedly tried to come out to my family, but every time, on the contrary, my mom sent me back as a confused lady.
When for the first time I told my mom that no man felt attractive ‘that way’ to me. Then my mother told me that I am ‘genuinely a good girl’, so that I never look down on any man ‘that way’.
I spent some good years in such comfort. Then like my age, the pressure of marriage also increase day by day, I tried to convince my mother again that ‘it is not possible for me to be with any relationship like husband and wife. I don’t have “that kind of interest” for anyone. Then my mother told me, it is normal not to have ‘this type of feeling’ before marriage, it will definitely happen after your marriage. This time again she made me confused, but I could not be convinced. A question arises in my mind, Before marriage, all girls are asexual, then after marriage, they become allosexual overnight! But how? Marriage is a social practice, how will it change my or any one’s biological interest?
My confusion & hesitation kept growing, I went to several psychologists, but everyone made me very dissatisfied. Fortunately, in 2018, a transgender friend of mine for the first time told me that probably I am an asexual. It was the first to start a fight to make me educate about it.
At one point I assured myself that I am an asexual woman. That time I tried to convince my mother again, but my mother said, I can make anyone else convince in these things, but I can’t convince my own mother. She said, there are three types of people in the world, men, women, and hijras. I was born with a 100% female body. There were no ‘faults’ in my body. So I am not a Hijra. And there is nothing in the world like asexuality for sure.
7. Any message for Asexuals across the globe that you want to share?
Dipa-My message to all asexuals across the globe to share their ace experiences publicly, that can make people educated.