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Interview 40

Age at interview: 22
Brief Outline: He believes that all children regardless of religious background should received sex education at school.
Background: Bangladeshi man who works full-time as a youth worker and lives with his parents. He thinks that free condoms are 'boring' and that the NHS should consult young people about it.

More about me...

 

Talks about peer pressure and explains that he had his first sexual experience in the context of...

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Well I went on holiday with a load of guys and it was the whole, you know, 'Go on, go on' egging each other on and, you know, it was my first time there, and my first time away, you know, on holiday, that wasn't back to my home country you know with, without family, without anyone that knew me there. It was just, you know, a lads' holiday where you went out, had a laugh, did whatever and came back and said, yeah that was that done.   

You know, growing up in a, in a strict Bengali family it's taboo to talk about sex, taboo to talk about pregnancy, STIs, anything. And, you know, now, you know, in modern culture you're meant to talk to your mum or, you know, your dad has a word with you about the birds and the bees and you know, about partners and girlfriends and that, but within my family I couldn't. And I've got an older brother and I couldn't talk to him about it.

At the time I was all right. Now looking back on it I regret it. If I could change it, I would.  I think I felt like I rushed into it and I should have been more prepared and more aware of, you know, what was, you know, what could have gone, you know, the bad way where I could have contracted an STI, and it would have affected me for the rest of my life.  

It was, you know, to be done and you know you have to do that, you have to do it, you know, do something 'cos everyone else is doing it. And you, you grow up through school, you know, with all that. My school's big, you know, it was turned into a mixed school while I was in the middle years and all my friends were going ahead and doing it and I just felt, 'No I don't want to do anything, you know, too hasty 'cos I might regret it'.
 

Explains that he couldn't talk to his family about issues such as sex, pregnancy, STIs.

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You know, growing up in a, in a strict Bengali family it's taboo to talk about sex, taboo to talk about pregnancy, STIs, anything. And, you know, now, you know, in modern culture you're meant to talk to your mum or, you know, your dad has a word with you about the birds and the bees and you know, about partners and girlfriends and that, but within my family I couldn't. And I've got an older brother and I couldn't talk to him about it.

You couldn't?

No. Because he's more traditional. Whereas I've tried to be more aware of what's happening and tried to be more, you know, westernised and spoken to my little, you know, younger brothers and sisters and said that if they have problems or any issues or if they were worried about anything they could come to me or they could go to the advice centre that I went to.
 

His sex education was limited at school, but learnt more about it during voluntary work in his...

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It was difficult. I mean I started doing voluntary work here and there in youth clubs and advice centres and it's through one of the projects that I was given, a project to look into STIs and unwanted pregnancies. 'Cos it was a young person's centre, agency, they asked me to do some help so you know they, they could use the research after. And then I related that to some college work that I was doing at the time as well and did a whole unit about HIV and AIDS and STIs. 

And that sort of raised my awareness around it. You know, through school, growing up, you know your taught in basics really, really basics and even that is taboo 'cos the parents always step in and say, 'Oh I don't want my child, you know, to be taught about this 'cos it's, you know, not right. Religion forbids it''. So you come out of school thinking, 'I don't really know much about what to do'.

Does religion forbid it, or is that a bad excuse?

I'm not sure. I think it's just parents worried about, you know, if their children find out about it, they'll want to do it. But I think the school's thinking is if they're taught at school at a young age then it, you know, prevents unwanted pregnancies at a very young age.

Yeah.  

Because you hear about 13, 14 year olds getting pregnant and, you know, that's the rest of their life. They've got a child to look after.

Yeah.  

So I think the school wants to make you aware of the risks involved, you know. That there's a good side to it or, right there's also the side that people choose to sort of disregard and not look at.
 

Explains that he was a bit worried to go to his GP for a check up because he is worried about...

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I did try to go to the hospital once where they're a bit more discreet about, you know, how they test you and where the information goes. 'Cos I was worried about, you know, when I go in for a job, when they do medical, you know, checks and stuff they might look at that and think, 'Oh, well he's a risk'. 

 

Plus I heard something over, you know, the TV, in the media, through mortgage lenders and that check up on your medical history and if they think, you know, you're a risk they don't give you, you know... Yeah. I mean it stopped me from going to the GP for quite a while. But in the end I've, I finally decided, you know, to just go and get myself checked out 

 

'Cos I got a bit worried after reading something in one of the pamphlets that my local GP gave. I thought I might have got something, so I went and got myself checked out.

 

I mean it was embarrassing because, you know, to a female doctor and guys being guys, you know, we don't talk about stuff like that, you know, you're meant to be macho and, you know, you don't, you know, do the boy stuff.  But to actually go in to the GP and say, 'Oh I need to be checked out for this and that' she obviously checked me for testicular cancer as well, saying, you know, 'Since you're here, you might as well get it checked out'.  And I can truly say that was the most embarrassing experience of my entire life and I can remember it 'cos it just felt too weird, you know.

 

But it was important?

 

Yeah, it was important and, you know, I've got it out of the way and I was, you know, told, 'OK, right there's nothing there. Your call'.  "cool'.  

 

Explains why he prefers to have a GP that is not a member of his community.

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My parents are, joined, my whole family have joined the same GP as well, and I was so worried that my GP might slip up and say something 'cos in the past we used to be joined to a Bengali GP and my family knew the GP quite well. So anytime when I went in to have myself checked out for any injections or anything like that my parents would automatically know.   

So he was breaking confidentiality after which I left and I went to another GP and my parents soon followed and came to the same GP with me. But with the GP that I'm seeing now, she doesn't say a word about anything and if my... and I know my parents do ask and when they do ask, they get told 'I'm not allowed to break confidentiality ask your son'.  

Is she Bengali?

No she's not, she's white.

OK.

So I think that makes a difference 'cos there's no cultural you know, mix and they don't know each other from any other, you know, social activity or anything.
 

Says that he feels embarrassed to buy condoms from a chemist and that he prefers to get them from...

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No, I usually send a friend down to the local chemist and get the, I still find it embarrassing to go into the chemist and buy condoms I don't know, I think it's just a thing that's drummed into, you know, young boys well, you know, at an early age, you know, when you're growing up, you know, 'Don't do this, don't do that', and it just sticks in your head. 

Plus you go into the local chemist and someone or other knows you or, you know, knows your family or, you know, knows your brother, or somehow knows you and it's just too embarrassing to take a pack of condoms up. At first I went to a local advice centre but it, the same one where I'd been told about, you know, STIs and pregnancy, contraceptives and stuff and they run a sexual health clinic so I was able to get some condoms from them. 

I mean, they laughed and joked about it 'cos, 'cos they'd known me for years, you know, but it didn't matter that much.  
 

Describes the concerns he had at the time of his first sexual experience.

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I was worried and I gave, 'Look' I said, you know, 'Did I mess up?' and she said, 'No'.  And it was, it was OK. So, yeah, I got the reassurance then and there but it does stick in your mind, you know, 'Was I alright?'  You know, 'Did I rush it?  Did I say the right things?  Did I do the right thing?'  You know.

So, this is very much sort of a young man's kind of '

And it affects how, you know, how the rest of your relationships, you know come along.
 

Finds that it is not easy to have sex with someone who does not know anything about you.

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It's not easier to do it with someone that you don't know 'cos they wouldn't know what you're all about. You want someone to kind of know a little about you, and if you go to a nightclub and you meet someone there, you're not going to talk to them about touchy feely stuff, you're going to, you know, talk about, you know, the fast cars that you drive and, you know, the work that you do and, you know, the people that you hang about with. Nothing too major, just minor stuff that, you know, just doesn't really, you know, the next person can know about you from someone else.  
 

Says that he was unfaithful to his girlfriend but admits that he has learned from his experience.

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How important is faithfulness?

Very. I kind of cheated on my ex twice and she found out about one of them which did make life very, very difficult. I think, what I thought the first time would, would make me realise, you know, it'd be a learning thing but the second time just happened when I went away on a, on a residential with, with a group of friends. 

But it does make you, you know, after all of it, it does make you value what you have and it does make you realise that, you know, you want to be in the relationship. And you wouldn't want it, you wouldn't like it if the person you were seeing did the same to you.  So I suppose faithfulness is quite important.
 

Says that friends who are young fathers are struggling and that he at the moment is enjoying his...

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Do you think you would want children?

Maybe later on in life when I'm in my 30s, when I'm ready to, you know, commit to a relationship and, yeah, to a family. Once I've got my career goals out of the way and once I've lived my life and, you know, once I've enjoyed myself really.

OK. 

'Cos I'm working now and, and I'm enjoying life and I kind of want to hold onto that for a bit longer.

Have any of your contemporaries from school had children yet?

I had one friend who, well I have a couple now, they've been married and one of them had  a child recently. And at the age of 22, I looked at him and I said, 'Way too early to have children'.  'Cos now they're really struggling.  He tried going into business with her father meantime that didn't work out and I just said, 'Should always wait until everything is, you know, stable. You know your surroundings, your home family life'. Where I, once I've been stable and sorted and you know about, you know, you can, you know, move with a family then it's cool, go ahead with it.
 

Thinks that condoms provided by the NHS are boring and those you buy at chemists are more fun to...

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Well the shop ones are better than the GP ones 'cos they're just, plain old boring ones, aren't they?

They're, they're either too thick or, you know, they, it's boring

I think the chemist ones are just, the novelty side of things, you know, they're bright colours, flavoured and, you know, put on glow in the dark ones and it, it just makes you laugh when you get 'em and when you use them and it just amuses both, you know, yourself and the person that I'm with.

I would think that they need to get young people on their you know, designing board or something and get them to give some ideas and take some ideas and, you know, make their selection a bit more varied.

More geared to young people?

Yeah.
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