Interview with Yasmine, 18-19, South Asian, working class, Muslim. Women, Risk and AIDS Project, London, 1989. Anonymised version including field notes. (Ref: LSFS9)
Anonymised transcript of interview with Yasmine, who has recently got married. This was an arranged marriage, in line with her religious and cultural family background. This has been a very stressful and difficult time for her, largely due to her lack of sex education, especially around contraception. Sexuality is not something she can talk to her parents about, but she has spoken to her older sister and a friend. Yasmine is now on the pill, which her husband had advised her to use, though she isn't really enjoying the sexual aspects of their relationship. She would like a career, but her husband expects her to stay at home, in part to maintain respectability - she doesn't have much freedom anymore.
Reanimating Data Project
CC BY-NC 4.0
Q. To begin with, I notice from the questionnaire that you got married, is that recently?
A. In January.
Q. Had that been arranged?
A. Yes, an arranged married. In our religion .....always have their own choice, but the parents
choose the boy andQ. So what was it like for you, was it chosen?
A. Yes chosen by ........ In our religion, because I have seen my own self, some people have love
marriages and after about two or three months they split up because they don’t know about
their background, how their parents are, you see. You know when you have an arranged
marriage like my parents ....and his parents in SOUTH ASIA and see how he is and all other
relatives who know the family, they write letters and see if he is good or bad.
Q. So did your parents know his parents?
A. Yes. The main thing, we come from the same village and I didn’t know him before, but my
parents, when he was small, my parents know him, plus my mum and my dad knew his parents
as well and so we got married.
Q. How old is he?
A. He's twenty-six. I have a picture of him when I got married.
Q. That looks lovely. You have your face painted, it looks lovely. Did he come from SOUTH ASIA
to marry you or was he over here anyway?
A. No he was here, he was studying you see. He has been living in this country for two years.
Q. When did you first actually meet him, before January?
A. New Year's Day. He came to see me, and when he came we had to make tea and everything
and give it to him. And he comes to my room and he asks me some questions, like "what do
you study in college" and "what do you do, after you get married would you like to finish the
course". And he asked all these questions and I have to answer him.
Q. A bit like having an interview isn’t it?
Q. What did you think of him when you first saw him for the first time?
A. I was a bit scared, I don’t know why but I was just shaking. Because my brother in law, my
sister, everybody was there, and I was too shy to talk to him because I had never seen him
before. I was too scared.
Q. So were you then given some time on your own or did you just meet him with your family in the
same room as well?
A. My brother in law, everybody was there, my sister and my cousin and brother was there, yes.
He does come still, have a day off, like sometimes he will stay off on Thursdays, sometimes
Tuesday, so the first day he came to stay with me I was so scared. I had never been in this, I
had never had a boyfriend or anything like that before and suddenly I .....and I am so scared
Q. So you had only met him on New Year's Eve?
Q. And then what date did you get married?
A. The REDACTED of January.
Q. So you only had really known him a week.
A. Yes. But he seemed a nice person.
Q. To people like us it all seems very fast. Did it seem fast to you or were you expecting it to be?
A. I think I got married too early. It was too early, because the thing is why we get married in our
religion is early because you know after fifteen, when you grow up, eighteen, nineteen they will
go after boys and some Asian people have gone like that as well so they will go after boys, they
are still with the boys, if they leave home, so my parents think, we won’t do this. So my dad just
got a feeling, I don’t know, because I was going to college and likely to meet some boys, so
they marry girls early on. In our country they get married when they are sixteen, seventeen. I
got married when I was eighteen. My sister got married when she was eighteen. She got
married last year.
Q. And is she happy?
A. Yes, she is happy. She had an arranged marriage as well.
Q. What were you going to say about how strange it was when he comes to visit?
A. On the first night when he came, I was so scared to let him come in my bed.
Q. What did you do?
A. I was screaming. My parents were downstairs, because at the moment I am staying in my
parent's house, because I can’t go and stay with him because he hasn’t got any relations in this
country so only his sister came to London in February just after we were married, just after one
month, so she did and she changed her mind. Because after an Asian wedding you have a big
party, so we still haven’t done that, so we are going to do this.
Q. So that’s still to come?
A. Yes. So that will be next month. So we will do that party and then I am going to stay with him in
his house, buy a house or rent a flat or something like that.
Q. What does he live in at the moment?
A. He lives in a restaurant, two brothers in a restaurant over the restaurant.
Q. So you can’t go and live with him there?
A. No. He will come to my house and stay.
Q. Which is what he does?
Q. So were you just scared of sex?
A. Yes, I was scared of sex because before I didn’t know anything about taking tablets and things.
Q. You mean the pill?
A. Yes, because we never talk to our parents and I am too shy and in school we used to watch sex
and all this.
Q. They gave you videos?
A. And I was scared so I never used to watch it you see.
Q. So you didn’t even watch it at school?
A. Not at school and I didn’t know anything about it you see. So I didn’t know what to do and I
thought if he does it now I am so scared I might be pregnant. I won’t let him to do it. So he had
to say don’t be scared, it’s nothing and all this, and I still won’t let him do it. I will scream. And
then he told me he was going to use Durex, and he used that and after one week he used that
and then because he doesn’t like it, and then he told me everything. He said, "you should go to
the doctors, and I will come with you and get the pills". Since then I am on pills.
Q. So you are taking the pill?
A. When I am taking the pill I'm alright because then I know I'm not going to get pregnant.
Because I am really scared to be pregnant because my brother in law said if you get pregnant
now, I am going to kill you because.... a baby still - he was just joking. You are a bit too young
to have a baby now. I am so scared.
Q. Would you like to have a baby?
A. I would like to have a baby but not now, I think I am too young.
Q. So did you go along to the doctor with him?
A. Yes, he came with me. I would never take my parents along, I'm too shy to take them. I never
talk to them or anything.
Q. So they never talk to you about what to expect from marriage and sex and boys?
A. No. In our religion we never talk about sex or anything to parents. I do talk to my sister, the one
who got married, she told me some things as well.
Q. So how do they expect you to learn?
A. They know that we learn in school, they learn people in school. They used to show me pictures
and I never used to like it, so I never used to watch. Never talked to my parents, you just have
to use your own, you know.
Q. Did your friends ever talk about it?
A. My friend yes, one of my friends talked about it. She knows everything about the films and
books, and she does biology and all these things she studied in school.
Q. So can you talk easily to her about things?
A. Yes her and my sister.
Q. How old is your sister?
A. She is nineteen now.
Q. She is the one that gotA. -married last year, yes.
Q. So did she know about sex when she got married?
Q. So she wasn’t the same as you?
A. No. I was so frightened.
Q. Did that affect the way you felt about your husband?
Q. Was he very understanding?
A. My husband? Yes. He said, "don’t worry I am not going to make you pregnant now", and all
this. We will wait a while for two to three years.
Q. That seems sensible.
Q. So do you take the pill all the time now?
Q. And you take it because you are safe on the pill?
A. Yes. I am not worried any more. You know when I don’t take pills, I won’t let him come to my
Q. And so has it got any easier now that you take the pills?
A. Yes. It has got much easier. I am more happy now.
Q. And are you still scared of it or?
A. No, I am not scared any more.
Q. So it was really the pregnancy you were scared of, not the actual kind of sexual activities.
A. Because I didn’t know you had to take pills.
Q. So do you actually get some enjoyment out of it now?
Q. Because some people do and some people don’t. Did you have any expectations about what it
would be like?
Q. Did you think it would hurt?
A. Yes, it did.
Q. The first time it is painful.
A. The first time it took him about three weeks, three to four weeks. I was so scared I was
screaming at night and my sister, because at that time she came to our house to stay one week
and she was sleeping next door, and I was screaming so she was banging on the door. She
said, “be quiet”.
Q. Because it must be a real shock for you not knowing anything at all?
Q. The whole house must have been able to hear?
A. My parents were downstairs so..
Q. They couldn’t hear. And did the school actually teach you if you had wanted to know, it was just
A. Yes. You didn’t have to, but it was better for you to know everything. So I didn’t even know
about periods before. Right, and so my sister told me everything, the first time I was on my
period, I saw this blood there and I thought I was bleeding and all this and I was crying so
much. I went to my sister with all blood all over, and my sister says, "oh you are meant to have
this when you are fourteen, and some people get it when they are twelve".
Q. That’s right.
A. So I was fourteen or fifteen and my sister goes, "this is every month and all this bleeding goes",
and she told me what to use and she got me a packet of pads and then she told me, that next
time you are on your period you go to the chemist and buy this. So she told me.
Q. So it’s very useful for you to have an older sister?
A. Yes. .....
Q. So does your mother never ask you?
A. My mother told me about periods, but not that much.
Q. After you started or before?
A. After I started.
Q. That’s a bit late then?
Q. And has your mother ever said anything about your husband and sex and things like that?
A. No she never says anything like that.
Q. Not even since you have been married?
A. No, or my dad. No-one.
Q. Is that normal in Asian families?
A. Yes in Asian, they never talk to their daughter about sex and periods.
Q. Because that must make it very hard for daughters who haven’t got elder sisters or friends or
close Aunties or something?
A. Yes, I'm lucky.
Q. Yes although I suppose in a way it would have been nice for you to have known more before
you got married and then you wouldn’t have been so frightened?
A. That’s what I wish. Now I wish that I did learn about this and that. It was a big mistake not
Q. And did you anticipate what sort of things you feel, emotions and feelings about it?
A. A little bit, but not much. But my heart was going like this every time he touches me.
Q. And who takes the lead is it?
A. He does.
Q. Do you ever think about doing anything?
Q. Do you think you ever could think about doing anything or is it that part of?
A. Maybe sometimes.
Q. And what do you think about your future, what do you think will happen in the next few years?
A. I will have two children, no more than that. I would like one boy and one girl.
Q. What are you going to do from the course here?
A. I am going to finish the course. My course finishes training at the end of June and after this I
want to be a CARING PROFESSION.
Q. To be a CARING PROFESSION?
A. Yes to be a CARING PROFESSION. But my husband doesn’t want me to go any more to do
this. He wants me to stay at home.
Q. Why not?
A. To be a housewife.
Q. How do you feel about that?
A. Boring. I wouldn’t like to stay home, I would like to at least work in a shop or anything. Because
he thinks if I go out it doesn’t look as if I am married, because at home I wear a sari and when I
go to college and WORK I wear a suit so he thinks that Asian boys, they are really bad Asian
boys, because every time they see girls they always run after girls and try to chat them up and
all this. So when I wear a suit people just think I am not married and if you go out like this then
they will chat to you and they are going to go after you and all this, and so that’s why he doesn’t
want me to go.
Q. So he wants to keep you safe at home?
A. Safe at home, yes.
Q. But that’s not very fair on you is it?
A. No. I think it’s boring at home. So he didn’t even want me to finish this training. So I thought I
would finish it, it’s only another two months, finishing, so he goes alright then, but you can’t go
out any more.
Q. And so do you have to do what he says?
A. Yes, you have to listen to what your husband says.
Q. But do you think that’s what you will end up doing, being a housewife?
A. Yes, I know I was going to be that because all Asian girls, they always become housewives,
most of them anyway. Some of them do something else.
Q. What about the ones that train for a..?
A. My sister is lucky because she works.
Q. What does she do?
A. She is going to work, you know NAME OF HOSPITAL, she is going to be a CARING ROLE,
REDACTED, now she is working as a COMMUNITY ROLE. REDACTED. And now she is going
to work as a CARING ROLE.
Q. Does she speakA. -English properly, yes. Because at NAME OF HOSPITAL there are so many Asian people and
some can’t speak English and all this, and when they go to hospital someone has to explain
everything, so my sister is going to be a CARING ROLE.
Q. That’s good, interesting. And her husband doesn’t mind?
A. No. Her husband wants her to work. My husband is the oppositeQ. But it would bring extra money in if you worked?
A. Yes, but he doesn’t care about money. He earns £170 a week as a waiter.
Q. In an Indian restaurant?
A. Yes, an Indian restaurant. He lives in SOUTH EAST LONDON.
Q. So is he planning on staying in that area of work?
A. No. I won’t let him because I don’t like that place. In the Easter holiday I went to stay with one of
his Aunts in SOUTH EAST LONDON where he works, just near where he works, and it was just
so boring. There's no Asian people, no single Asian people, all English, and so quiet and I don’t
like a quiet place. I think it’s so boring, so I told him not to buy a house there. He says, "No it’s
good, it’s better than noisy places".
Q. Is he quite a quiet person then?
A. Yes, he likes being quiet all the time.
Q. That can be a bit boring. Is he going to stay in restaurant work, that’s his kind of..?
Q. And do you think you will end up having a restaurant?
A. His plan was to buy a restaurant first and then I stay on top of the restaurant and he is going to
work downstairs and all this. And I think I have changed his mind and now he wants to buy a
Q. And then just go out to work in the restaurant?
Q. So would you prefer to stay round here?
A. Yes, because all my friends are here and if I go there I will miss them.
Q. No, you would be very lonely.
A. My sister she has bought a house in … and it takes one and a half to two hours from our house
to her house with the bus and there are so many Asian people, she misses us.
Q. Yes, her family and friends.
A. So she always takes my small brothers and sisters,
Q. So how has life changed since you got married?
A. A lot.
Q. What’s happened?
A. Before I could go to the shops anytime I want, to a friend’s house anytime I wanted, my parents
at that time were not bad so they said yes, but now you can’t go anywhere, to the shops,
nothing. Or if your husband comes and I used to muck about with my cousin and now I can’t
because he is jealous or something. My brother in law, I always joke with him, before I always
used to joke with him and now I never do because once I was joking with him and my husband
was there and at night he said, "don’t joke that much because I don’t like it".
Q. Because he's jealous?
A. Yes. I think it has changed a lot.
Q. Well yes it sounds very restrictive now. Were you happier before you were married?
A. Much happier, yes. Much more freedom, now it seems as if I was in prison for ten hundred
years, now just for three days and the time will never pass. I look at the time.
Q. So it must seem like really nice to be able to come here?
Q. To the YTS?
A. Yes, I like it. It’s much better than staying home. I always liked coming here anyway, I always
used to like going to my WORK.
Q. You couldn’t ever argue with your husband and say this is what I really want to do, it’s very
important to me. Would he understand?
A. Well I don’t think so. It is religion, it’s not English.
Q. Yes, it’s very traditional, and what the man says is very... Is your father like that?
A. My father is very strict. Because once I was coming back from college and I met this boy who
was just trying to chat me up and I was only thirteen, so I was ignoring him. And one of my
Uncles saw him talking to me and so my Uncle told my Dad, you know, "I saw your daughter
talking to this boy" and all this and so when I went home, he didn’t say anything in the morning
or afternoon but when I went to bed, about half past one he called me down, he said, “I want to
talk to you”, and I was so scared, and he really told me off because, "why were you talking to
this boy outside school, you must not talk to anybody like this or you will never go to school", or
anything like this. My Dad is really strict, and he really told me off.
Q. So did you know many boys in school?
A. I knew quite a lot of boys, yes. I never used to go out with them or anything.
Q. So have you ever had a boyfriend?
Q. Not even in secret? Because some Asian girls do?
A. I wanted one, his restaurant was just near my college and I used to go to NAME OF COLLEGE
before, and then I was scared, if I make him my boyfriend I will be in dead trouble afterwards, if
my parents or anyone found out I would be dead, so I told him no. He has been coming to my
college every day nearly, but I won’t talk to him. I did like him in my mind, but I was too scared.
Q. I see. What would have happened if you had gone out with him?
A. My dad would have murdered me. He would say, I wouldn’t like a daughter like that. My cousin,
she is only fourteen, she is fifteen now and she went with this boy, she went to school first in
the morning at nine o'clock, she was saying she was going to school, but she didn’t really, she
went to meet her boyfriend and then that boy took her to his house and he wouldn’t let her
come out, he made her stay all night in his house. And her parents were looking for her
everywhere, phoning people's houses and they couldn’t find her. And then the next day she
came home so her dad got a really big stick and really beat her up. They were going, "where
were you", and all this and so the next day they sent her to SOUTH ASIA to get married and
nobody will take her now.
Q. Because she…?
A. Because everybody knows she has been sleeping with this other man.
Q. Even though she may not have wanted to?
A. Yes. But still people might think that she already did it. And so, in SOUTH ASIA nobody would
marry her, so she came back again to this country.
Q. So what’s happened to her now?
A. So she is at home now. She is not allowed to go anywhere.
Q. So she must be very unhappy?
A. Yes, she is very unhappy.
Q. Because that seems very unfair, especially when you think what boys go off and do?
A. It’s not her fault really is it?
Q. Well if he kept her at his house?
A. He wouldn’t let her come out.
Q. No, that’s very unfair. You know that in this country and the whole world really there has been a
scare about AIDS?
A. AIDS, yes.
Q. Did you ever learn anything about that?
A. Yes, I did a little bit, but not much. If you sleep with somebody who has got this disease you
might catch it. Is that true? I was scared about that as well before because you never know
what people might have.
Q. Where did you hear about it?
A. I read this book about AIDS and one of my brothers told me as well.
Q. Is it something that Asian people talk about or worry about at all?
A. Not many Asian people, only some, a few people. You don’t hear that much.
Q. And do you know your husband, obviously he is your first sexual relationship, but do you know
if you are his first sexual relationship?
Q. So no-one ever talks about that?
A. No. Not about AIDS.
Q. Are there kind of double standards for boys and girls, so that boys can go out with a girlfriend,
for instance, but Asian girls can’t go out with their boyfriends?
A. They can’t, no.
Q. So, for instance, someone like your brother or brother in law or your husband could have had
girlfriends in the past. Are there Asian girls they might have met?
A. No. They always say no, I don’t know if they are lying, but they always say no, they have never
had a girlfriend or have been with a girl. On the first night we were talking about this, he asked,
"did you used to have a boyfriend?" and all this and, "did you use to go out with anyone" and he
asked all these questions.
Q. That must have been on your wedding night?
A. If you have been going out with someone they never say if they did, they always say no. They
Q. Yes because otherwise it means, say, like two young people like yourself and your husband on
your wedding night or whenever the first time you sleep together, if it’s both of you it’s the first
time, I mean it could be even worse in the sense of not knowing what exactly it was all about or
what to do. Would you like it to be more talked about, about sex, in your sort of family or
friends, or whatever, would you have liked to have known more?
Q. And if you had to describe yourself as a person to somebody else how would you describe
A. I don’t know really.
Q. Would you say you were noisy or quiet and shy, or?
A. I laugh too much.
Q. You laugh too much?
A. Especially with all my friends here, I always laugh, and my sister, she is always giggling and my
dad always tells us off, and after my sister got married the whole house went quiet so my dad
says, "it will be much quieter when you go as well". My dad doesn’t like quiet, he likes me and
my sister laughing and joking and all this. So, every time I go to my room my dad always calls
me down and says, "come here, just sit down, what are you doing in your room". Because I was
listening to music, I love music and reading, and my dad says, "it will be boring when you go".
When my sister got married the house was all empty and when I go, when I went to SOUTH
EAST LONDON for three days my dad said, "it seems you have been a long time, it’s so quiet".
Q. Yes. Are there any more of you?
A. Yes, one little sister and two brothers, but they are not noisy. They don’t laugh or anything that
Q. How old are they?
A. One brother is twelve and my sister is ten and the other brother is eight.
Q. And when your younger sister gets a bit older, do you think you would talk to them about sex
and the things that you didn’t know about.
A. Yes, I will with my sister. She will get married after about eight years later.
Q. She will have an arranged marriage too?
A. Yes. I didn’t know, you know, they were going to come to see me, my husband, I didn’t know,
so that the day before they came my mum was preparing all this food and I said to my mum,
"how come you are preparing all these things today?" and she goes, "oh, nothing, there is just
someone coming from SOUTH ASIA". I didn’t know I was getting married that early.
Q. So they hadn’t told you at all?
A. They didn’t tell me. So the day before that, my dad says, "today you wear a nice sari" and when
he said sari I knew what it was. Because he said, "today you wear a nice sari and wear all your
gold jewellery and all this", and thenQ. And then you knew?
A. Yes, I knew and then he told me afterwards. At first, he didn’t tell me. When he said “you have
to wear a sari” I was crying.
Q. Why were you crying?
A. Because I didn’t want to get married.
Q. Did you know that they were going to arrange a marriage for you?
Q. But not when?
A. Not when, I didn’t know when it was. So, me and my sister were the first girls to get married out
of all my friends. Nobody has got married yet, only me and my sister. Plus, nobody has passed
their driving test apart from me and my sister. None of our friends, none of my friends have got
a car, nothing like this, so it’s always me and my sister. I said, "all our friends they are not
married and all this, so why do we have to get married that early", and "oh no you have to", and
all this. "Because you do have to get married someday, so you might as well get married now".
Q. Is that what they said?
A. Yes, that’s what my dad said.
Q. And there wasn’t any question of actually discussing it with you, you weren’t actually asked
what you thought of?
A. Yes after, you know when they came to see us, after that my brother in law, he takes me to this
room and goes, "and do you like him? And if you don’t, just say no". So, they do say yes or no,
it’s up to you. So, I just said yes because I don’t want to make my mum and my dad and
everyone unhappy because they chose him. So, I just said yes, I think he is really nice.
Q. So do you think you will actually get to love him?
A. Yes, you have to.
Q. You have to? If you had thought he was really horrible would you have said so?
A. Yes, I would have said to my parents if he was really awful. He came to my room and he said,
"what is all this cassettes and posters and all this.
Q. What did you have up in your room?
A. I had posters of Indian actors, Asian actors and all these cassettes. He said, "what’s all these
cassettes and posters and all this."
Q. Is he interested in those at all?
A. A little bit, not that much. He likes the poster of this man, this Indian actor.
Q. What's his name?
A. ........... I used to be crazy about him, in school, everywhere I used to put his name, so in my
room I have all these hearts, even in my car when I used to have it, all hearts all over and he
saw my car. I sold it last month, and he saw my car with all these hearts in it and he says,
"were you in love with someone before?", and I said, "yes with ........". But only really with
anybody else. And he said, "how come you are into hearts a lot?".
Q. Yes pretend you don’t know. So can you play your music and things with him? He doesn’t
A. Yes, he likes it.
Q. Before you got married what was your social life like, did you go out?
A. Well I did used to go out, but not that much. Because my dad really didn’t used to let me go out
that much, but he did let me, but he said, "you have to come back at this certain time" and all
this. He never used to let me go after six when it gets dark and all this and so he goes, "if you
go at two o'clock you have to come back at four o'clock”. About two or one hours he used to
give me. I was never allowed to go to the cinema or clubs and pubs.
Q. Not at all?
A. Not at all. In our religion they never drink wine or anything, they never go to the pubs. But I did
used to go to the cinema with my college.
Q. So you didn’t even go to Indian films?
A. No, I went to see English films.
Q. With the college?
Q. Well that must have been quite fun?
A. Yes, three or four times I went. I didn’t tell my parents that they were taking me to the cinema, I
said they were just here outside.
Q. Would they have got cross with you?
A. Yes, they would have got cross. "Asian people don’t go to cinemas so why do you have to go?".
Q. So why don’t they go to the cinema?
A. I don’t know. It’s just all English people go. If it is an Asian film, they will always go to Asian
films. But English films are a bit rude and all this. My parents will watch television and suddenly
there is this rude part they always switch it off or something. They say, if you go to the cinema
they will show these kind of things and you learn this and then you might meet someone, going
out and all this.
Q. So they kind of want to keep you pure?
Q. And do you think that if you have a daughter of your own do you think you will bring her up in
the same sort of way?
A. I wouldn’t keep her that strictly, no. Not in this country. If it’s in SOUTH ASIA I will because in
SOUTH ASIA they are always strict now. If she lives here, I will let her but not too much and not
too less, a medium.
Q. Would you let her go out with boyfriends?
A. No, not with a boyfriend.
Q. So do you mind if you weren’t allowed out with boyfriends?
A. I am glad I didn’t. Because I don’t want to have a bad name you see, because they will say, oh,
she has been out with a fella and all this and she is married to this other man. People will say
Q. Because it’s very important what people think, isn’t it?
A. Yes, in our religion.
Q. Which religion is that?
Q. That’s what I thought.
A. My husband goes, "always you must pray, you must pray". He always prays every Friday,
because he hasn’t got any time Monday to Thursday really because they are really strict and
they won’t let him have a day off, so every Friday he goes to the Mosque and prays. He always
tells me to pray as well. I always pray anyway, because sometimes I am lazy.
Q. Do you go to the Mosque as well?
A. I used to before but when you are over sixteen you don’t go. Not after you start your puberty,
you don’t go there anymore.
Q. Do you not at all?
A. No, you stay home and pray.
Q. Why is that?
A. It’s just against the religion because after puberty you are not clean and all this, so you don’t go.
Even when you have finished you are still not allowed to go. I left when I was fifteen.
Q. So it must mean that everyone knows when you have started your periods because you have
stopped going to the Mosque?
A. Yes but sometimes in this country they don’t really go to the Mosque when they grow up,
because they know how to read so they just pray at home instead of going to the Mosque.
Q. And in your culture, is sex seen as important? People's views about it or to you, do you see
your sex life with your husband as an important part of your life or not?
Q. So is it important that it’s good and that you enjoy, or what is important about it?
A. It’s enjoying it.
Q. And is it getting enjoyable?
Q. Yes, because people have very mixed experiences as we said earlier on, some people can
have nice experiences and other people don’t.
A. Maybe they don’t because they have had some other experience with somebody else, maybe
Q. Because sometimes men aren’t very experienced in knowing what actually gives girls pleasure
so all they do is sort of go and get their own pleasure and the girl might be left thinking, 'oh, is
that all it was, I didn’t feel anything much at all', and start wondering whether it is all worth the
trouble, whereas sometimes men can be very good at making girls feel very good about it and
have their own very nice pleasure?
A. Have you had that experience, are you married now?
Q. I am not married, but I have had that experience. I think it’s very pleasurable.
A. What do you think of it?
Q. I enjoy it.
A. Do you have a boyfriend?
Q. Yes. It’s something, say in your religion is presumably not discussed or talked about as much
as in my culture, where it is always on the television or people are talking about it, it’s in the
papers, magazines, everywhere.
A. In our religion they will never buy the Sun magazine, they know that on Page 3 what there is, so
they never buy them.
Q. No I never buy it either. Would you like to see that change or are you happy with the way that
girls/boys sexual behaviour is kept quite secret, do you think that is a good thing or do you think
it should be more open?
A. I think it is a good thing it is a secret because if it is opened up they will never let them go
anywhere and all this, but if it is secret they know that you are going to college and all this and
they don’t know anything about going out with someone or not.
Q. Do you think you would ever feel that you would want to have more experience with other
people or are you happy to be with your husband?
A. I would have liked to have had more experience with other people I think, knowing more about
Q. And being able to experiment for yourself with it?
Q. And do you ever smoke?
A. No, never. My husband smokes a lot, he smokes about twenty a day and sometimes more than
that. I never let him smoke, so he just snatches them. I always hide the cigarette packet, but he
always finds it, I don’t know how. He smokes so much. In my room I have put up those "no
smoking signs" and he went and tore them up and put them in the bin because he is smoking.
Q. Do many Asian women or girls smoke?
A. Not really.
Q. I haven’t seen many. But if you did would your parents disapprove?
A. Yes, they don’t like the girls smoking. Boys they are allowed, but not in front of parents. My
brother, he is twenty-two, he has never smoked in front of my mum or dad, and he always
comes in my room and smokes.
Q. Is he married?
Q. So they are not bothered about marrying him off?
A. No the boys they get married when they are twenty-six, thirty, twenty-five. He is twenty-two but
he looks so young, he looks about seventeen, eighteen.
Q. What does he do?
A. He is a waiter as well. He works in a restaurant.
Q. And will he have a marriage that’s arranged in any way, or will he choose his own?
A. No, he is going to have an arranged marriage.
Q. And does he mind that or is that alright?
A. I don’t know, he never talks about that to us. Everybody has an arranged marriage, so he has to
have an arranged marriage too.
Q. Does he live at home with you?
Q. And does he go out a lot?
A. No, he doesn’t go out a lot, no. But he has always been quiet, he never likes going after girls
and all this.
Q. But suppose he did meet a girlfriend that he wanted to go out with, would he be allowed to?
A. If my parents knew that he does, no. If he tells us and all this, we won’t tell our parents about
this, and let him.
Q. Yes and keep it secret?
A. Yes. He tells us about all his stories about what happens in the restaurant and girls come.
Sometimes he talks to them and he tells us this.
Q. And are your friends in the same situation as you or do some of them have parents who have
different sorts of ideas?
A. No they are all in the same situation as us.
Q. So they will get arranged marriages too?
Q. And do you think you will still be able to know them?
Q. So even if you are all married you can get together?
A. Yes, she always comes to my house every Friday, my best friend. She goes to college in WEST
LONDON so on Friday she finishes a bit early, so she comes to my house and stays two or
Q. What has happened to your car? You said you had a car?
A. Yes, I sold it because it gives me too much problem, so I am going to buy a new car when my
husband says. Because he just passed after one week, he got married, he passed his test, so
he has a REDACTED, a cheap one, so he doesn’t like driving...so I have to drive a cheap one.
Because he is just a new driver, so he is going to change it next month and going to buy a new
Q. Why doesn’t he like driving a cheap car?
A. He is too shy, people might think, he doesn’t like it, I don’t like it too. I had a REDACTED, it was
Q. Did your parents buy that for you?
A. Yes, my dad bought me one and my dad bought one for my sister as well. Hers was an
REDACTED, but her husband has sold it and he bought a REDACTED and it got nicked two
weeks ago. Thirteen year old youths, and they were only thirteen, and the police caught them
and they smashed the whole car, they took the whole ....off and there was nothing left in the
car. You can’t see if it is a car or not and so the insurance is going to buy them a new one.
Q. So what does your father do, does he have a good job?
A. He used to before but now he doesn’t work at anything now, he is on the social security.
Q. What did he do before?
A. Before he used to do FACTORY WORK and now he doesn’t work anymore.
Q. I was going to say he must have quite a lot of money to be able to buy you and your sister a
A. Yes and now he is going to buy a car himself. He wants to buy an REDACTED. He goes, "I
think I really should, I just don’t like driving this car". I don’t buy an expensive car now because I
am scared in case of an accident or anything because I have just passed my test. I passed last
year, in MONTH. My sister passed the year before.
Q. Do you find having a car gives you more freedom?
A. Yes. When I had my car I always used to go to my friend's house. Every night we used to go
round the West End just driving.
Q. You said you were coming back briefly before we finished here, like knowing about sex
education and things like that, how did you learn how to make babies and things like that?
A. I think my friend told me about this, I am not sure, I forgot. She told me once if you don’t use
anything you just become pregnant. And now I have gone to the doctors, I always get a
headache, even before ............ headaches and when I told them ....took pills so the man goes,
maybe you are pregnant, and when he said pregnant I said oh, don’t say that. Oh, are you
taking pills and I said yes, and he says oh, that’s alright then.......there must be something else
wrong with your head. And I was so scared when he said that. I said, 'don’t say that, I'm not'.
Oh no, you can’t be because you take pills. And he gave me these other tablets. These tablets,
they have got Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, not the pill, but these pills are
for headaches and they have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. I have never seen
tablets like this before.
Q. No so they are not the contraceptive pill, they are actually for …?
A. Yes, they are just exactly the same as the contraceptive pill, but they are like big ones, not
really tiny ones.
Q. So you have to take those as well.
A. Yes for my headaches.
Q. Did you actually know all about intercourse and the man putting his penis in the vagina and all
that sort of thing?
A. No. I didn’t know.
Q. So did you know that when you got married?
A. Yes, after I got married.
Q. So who explained it, what did you think on the first night your husband came round? What did
you think he was going to do?
A. He told me, "whatever I do, don’t say no, just say yes", and I don’t know, and he says, "you
have to say yes, you have to listen to me". And then he goes to do that thing.
Q. But did you know what he was going to do?
A. Yes, I did know what he was going to do but I didn’t know the feeling I was going to get so I was
Q. Because that makes you very tense too, so did you try and stop him?
A. Yes. I tried to push him off the bed. But every time I pushed him, he pulled my hair. He said, "if
you don’t let me, I'm going to pull your hair".
Q. So you eventually let him?
A. Yes afterwards.
Q. So did he talk about sex to you at all, your husband?
Q. What did he say?
A. He said, "sex is enjoyable and all this, and we must do it". And he got this book showing all
these pictures about how you do sex and what to use, with all pictures.
Q. With different positions?
A. Yes, where they make sex and all this. If you like it, I will bring it in.
Q. And did you look at it a lot?
A. I didn’t look at it, but he forced me to. He told me to look at it and I did, and he told me to read it
and I told him I couldn’t read English, but I can really, but I was just lying to him.
Q. So you were saying you couldn’t read English?
A. Yes. And then he tells me don’t lie. I read a little bit about one paragraph and then I stopped. So
he told me to read it and I said no, you read it, but I won’t let him so he goes, alright, let’s look
at the pictures then.
Q. And did it help?
A. A little bit.
Q. Because there are other things apart from intercourse aren’t there which the book probably
A. I am glad now because if you do it when you are fasting you can’t really do sex, it’s justQ. You are not supposed to or?
A. You could do it, but you have to have a fast straight after you have done sex. I am fasting now
Q. How long does the fasting last?
A. One month. We started on the 6th April and we finish on the 6th May.
Q. So does that mean you have stopped having sex or?
Q. So do you miss?
A. I am glad. Because I don’t like doing it every time he comes. I get fed up.
Q. Does he expect it every time he comes?
A. Yes but I don’t let him. When he first comes home, I say I am not doing it tonight, but he has
started already, but now I open the door I just say straight away.
Q. What, I'm not doing it tonight?
A. Yes. I just say I am not doing it today. And my little brother, he says in front of everybody "I am
not doing it today". I hope they don’t know what he is talking about.
Q. And how often does he come?
A. REDACTED. But I don’t like him coming twice a week, because if he comes twice a week I
have to do it more and I don’t like it.
Q. So what is it going to be like when you live in the same place?
A. That’s what I'm worried about as well. I always think about that, because it would be nice to
stay by myself and he only comes in for a night and he might be determined to do this every night
and I don’t like it.
Q. Do you think you will ever grow to like it or not?
A. No, I don’t think so.
Q. Does he like it?
A. Yes. I don’t.
Q. So he doesn’t ever sort of do things to you, not particularly to do with sexual intercourse that
could be quite nice, like stroking you, do you know what I mean, nothing to do with anything very
active, just making you feel warm, like you might stroke a dog almost except that it’s a person sort
of curled up, he doesn’t ever do anything like that?
Q. Because that’s very nice and that’s all part of it, you know, part of being together rather than
actual sex. Before this you were at a mixed school?
A. Before this I went to a mixed school for two years, then I left that and I went to NAME OF
GIRLS SCHOOL for two years. For three years I was in a mixed school, .... because I used to live
in ...... before and then I had to change because I moved, and I went to NAME OF GIRLS
SCHOOL. I think a mixed school is much better than a girls school, because in a girls school, you
know, boys they always come at lunch time and after school and in a mixed school I think it is
much better because they don’t come after school and we just see them there, they don’t make
that much trouble.
Q. So you quite enjoyed the mixed school?
Q. Yes, I can imagine in your position if you had gone to an all girl’s school you would never see
boys at all would you?
Q. And did you take any exams?
A. Exams yes. I did CSE in maths, English, all of my lessons and took seven, I passed five and I
failed two but that was sociology and geography, but most of them I passed.
Q. Could you have done 'A' levels?
A. I would have in SOUTH ASIAN but I daren’t do it.
Q. Did you want to do it?
END OF RECORDING.
18 year old young woman from SOUTH ASIA. On the YTS childcare course. Had offered to
be interviewed on her Q'aire, but was a bit reluctant when I propositioned her about it in
class. Nevertheless, she agreed and it was all right, she was with me for almost an hour
talking. She was very pretty and youthful in appearance, looked younger than 18. Was
wearing a yellow 'suit', as she referred to it, a long yellow tunic top with embroidery on, and
light yellow trousers underneath. Quite elaborate yellow ear-rings, She'd had an arranged
marriage in January (a few months earlier). Because she wasn't too keen on this, her
parents didn't tell her that the prospective husband was coming to visit her until the night
before, when she got suspicious because of all the food being prepared. They told her it was
some uncle from SOUTH ASIA. But it was when they told her to put on a good sari that she
knew, and a week later she was married to him. She didn't know anything about sex and had
been too frightened to even watch the videos at school, and her parents never mentioned it.
Her husband lives at a restaurant where he works as a waiter. She still lives at home, and he
visits her once or twice a week and stays the night. She doesn't like sex much, and her initial
experiences were very painful - she was screaming and her sister was banging on the wall
telling her to be quiet! Her husband got a book on sex and made her look at it. Says it's
becoming a bit more enjoyable now, but also said she was glad it was Ramadan at the time
because this meant no sex. She talked quite easily but got a bit embarrassed at some of the
sex Qs, nevertheless she did try to answer most of them, and also asked me about sex and
if I enjoyed it. She won't be allowed by her husband to work, it is only under sufferance that
she is able to finish this YTS course, which she has been enjoying.