NASIMA AK­TER

At 18, she is tak­ing to the waves on her surf­board and crush­ing con­ser­va­tive taboos as she goes

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - @WORK -

Nasima was forced from her fam­ily home at the age of nine, af­ter her par­ents kicked her out for re­fus­ing to earn money as a pros­ti­tute. Home­less, she found an adop­tive fam­ily at the sur ng club in her home­town of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where she learned to surf on one of the world’s long­est un­in­ter­rupted sandy coast­lines. Lo­cal taboos about women swim­ming meant that Nasima was of­ten the only woman in the wa­ter. She en­dured jeers from men and boys who called her a ‘whore’. She started win­ning sur ng com­pe­ti­tions, us­ing her prize money to sup­port her­self while also sell­ing cu­rios and seashells for ex­tra in­come. Still con­form­ing to some cul­tural cus­toms around modesty, Nasima surfs wear­ing the tra­di­tional baggy trousers and long shirt of Bangladeshi women. Her out ts bil­low in the waves and un­doubt­edly weigh her down com­pared to her male coun­ter­parts, but she still man­ages to out-surf them. Her story caught the eye of Cal­i­for­nia-based doc­u­men­tary lm­maker Heather Kessinger, who trav­elled to Bangladesh to cap­ture Nasima in ac­tion. In The Most Fear­less, Heather doc­u­ments Nasima’s life on and off the beach. In the lm, Nasima also talks about her hus­band’s dis­ap­proval of her ca­reer she got mar­ried at 16 . Nasima s re­fusal to give up her pas­sion has forged new paths for girls from the con­ser­va­tive com­mu­nity. Not con­tent with only sur ng, Nasima also quali ed as Bangladesh’s rst fe­male life­guard and is an in­spi­ra­tion for girls in her town. The Cox’s Bazar Surf Club has had eight girls be­tween the ages of 10 and 13 join in the last year – all of whom also fea­ture in the lm.

Nasima Ak­ter and fel­low surfer Kam­rul Hasan

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