Talking Taboos, Street Life and Surfing with Nasima Akter

Nasima Akter
Image by Jordan Dozzi/PhotoSF

Sometimes taking the path less traveled can lead to social progress.

Nasima Akter is surfing on a tide of change.  The 19-year-old Bangladesh resident ran away from home at the age of nine, living on the streets, after her parents kicked her out for allegedly refusing to earn money as a prostitute.

Unsure of what to do,  Akter turned to surfing, after she saw Jafar Alam, Bangladesh’s first surfer gliding along the waves. From that moment on, she was determined to give it a try. She asked Alam to teach her to surf and although she picked up the sport easily, it was the challenge of breaking society’s taboo of women going into the water, that Akter found the most difficult.

Nasima Akter
Image by Jordan Dozzi/PhotoSF

Some community members cheered her on as she rode the waves, but many were discouraging. Some men even dropped out of the surfing club.  Akter turned a blind eye to defeat and went on to win the annual surf contest at Cox Bazar, one of the longest, unbroken beaches in the world.

Today there are close to eight girls between the ages of eight and 16, who Nasima has inspired to surf.

Nasima Akter
Image by Kamrul Hasan

To learn more about Nasima Akter and watch her documentary visit

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