An old Bangladeshi tradition of wealthy middle-aged men taking teenage boy singers as lovers is rediscovered in a new cinema-released film.
Homosexuality is illegal in Bangladesh thanks to an law established in British colonial times. But 150 years ago rich Muslim landlords in rural areas regularly openly took in ‘ghetu’, adolescent male singers, during monsoon season, AFP reports.
The film, Ghetuputra Komola (pleasure-boy Komola) is the last made by well-respected Bangladeshi filmmaker Humayun Ahmed before he died in July. It tells the tale of a Muslim man who becomes obsessed with a ghetu and his jealous wife.
AFP interviewed musician Abdul Quddus Bayati who remembers the ghetu culture from his youth. ‘They would have sex and nobody would bother. There was no protest from the Muslim clergy. Their [the clergy’s] gaining of strength is a relatively new thing,’ he said.
Now Bangladesh has one of the most oppressive societies for LGBT people in Asia. Homosexual acts can lead to life imprisonment and an article in the Dhaka Daily Star in 2003 blamed homosexuality on arsenic in the water supply.