Monthly Archives: January 2010

Bangladesh MSM snapshot released at ICAAP Bali

MSM Country Snapshots for 15 countries was developed as a collaborative product of UNAIDS Regional Support Team, the AIDS Datahub and APCOM.The countries are Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

Each snapshots portrays the latest  behavioural response data available from the Datahub, with information from the Commission on AIDS , and also included in some key sessions relating to MSM at ICAAP. A one-page Regional Picutre snapshot is also attached to each MSM Country Snapshot.

The Snapshots are designed to inform viewers (particularly those who may have little or no knowledge of MSM) about the reality of MSM in-country, to ensure that they have some related facts and figures, and to help spurn interest in attending specific MSM-related sessions.

The latest epidemiological data, released at the forum held by the Asia Pacific in Bali, shows that epidemics in the region are accelerating at an alarming rate.The risk behaviours among MSM and TG in Asia Pacific combined with the unique social, cultural and economic pressures that influence them create cross-cutting issues that must be taken into account by those seeking to support, educate and advocate for these often neglected communities.

“The vast majority of MSM is Southeast Asia are married or will be married, whether they want to be or not,” said Shale Ahmed of the Bandhu Social Welfare Society, Dhaka, Bangladesh

In addition, a large number of MSM in the region who are sex workers face a double stigma, exacerbated by low access to condoms, drug and alcohol abuse, low levels of education, a high level of mobility and dealing with harassment and violence.

The regional Picture Snapshot


http://msmasia.org/tl_files/news/ICAAP_News/Bangladesh_MSM_Country_Snapshot%20_Aug_2009.pdf

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World’s First Asia Pacific Transgender Network Launched to Champion Health and Rights of Transgender Women

Crossposted from ILGHRC website

http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/takeaction/partners/1058.html

Members of Asia Pacific Transgender Network. Bangladesh representative Zahida is first on the right (back row)

Diverse groups from warias, kathoeys and hijras to be represented
12/23/2009

IGLHRC believes that a vital part of our mission is supporting the work of activist organizations and allies by disseminating important information on human rights issues affecting LGBT communities worldwide. To this end we are reposting the following announcement from one of our partners.

For Immediate Release

Contacts:

Ms. Sitthiphan (Hua) Boonyapisomparn
APTN Coordinator
Email: huab2007@gmail.com
HP: +6626120365

Ms. Leona Lo
Founding Working Group member, APTN
Email: leona@talksense.biz
HP: +6597236075

(December 23, 2009, Bangkok, Thailand) Transgender women from 10 Asia Pacific countries and areas are coming together to say “No!” to discrimination and marginalisation by forming the world’s first Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN). After three days of intense meetings, it was decided that the APTN, composed entirely of transgender women across the region, will champion transgender women’s health, legal and social rights.

Ms. Khartini Slamah, Founding Working Group member and Core-Group Chair of the Transgender Programme in Pink Triangle (PT) Foundation, Malaysia, says this represents a milestone in the history of transgender women in the region. She says, “For a long time transgender women have been represented among the MSM (men who have sex with men) sub-population group, but there is now a recognition that we are a distinct demographic with our own unique needs. We wish to be separated from the MSM umbrella and inform The United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to stop clustering us under the MSM umbrella. Transgender women are not men – we have different issues and needs. Thus we have formed a network addressing the needs of transgender women only.”

From hijras in South Asia to warias in Indonesia

The group represents a broad spectrum of transgender women from sex workers to career women, from hijras (South Asia), warias (Indonesia), kathoeys (Thailand) and sao praphet songs (Thailand) to specialised interest groups such as youth, Muslims and elderly transgender women. Ms Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, another Founding Working Group member and one of the most recognisable faces of hijras in India, says she is pleased the community is being represented by the network. She says, “For the first time in history, hijras from Nepal, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are joining hands with our transgender sisters from Asia Pacific to say ‘No!’ to being treated like second-class citizens. We know there is strength in numbers. Together, we can advance and improve the health, legal and social rights of transgender women.”

The network will also tackle issues in the region such as HIV prevalence among transgender sex workers, especially in countries such as Indonesia and Cambodia, where infection rates are extremely high and resources in place are inadequate to ensure access to quality healthcare, as well as to protect the rights of the sex workers.

Outreach activities

The network is developing a workplan for the next two to three years. The Working Group will identify and explore key populations/groups in immediate need of support and plan activities to reach out to these target groups. Transgender representatives have also been appointed from every sub-region and from key sub-populations to rally transgender organisations within their respective sub-regions or areas to become members of the network. Ms. Sitthiphan (Hua) Boonyapisomparn, APTN Coordinator who is based in Bangkok, says, “At this stage, it is important that we develop a comprehensive workplan that addresses the needs of APTN members. We are already in discussion with potential donors and sponsors to explore how they might support APTN programmes.”

For more information about the network or to support its programmes, please contact Ms. Sitthiphan at huab2007@gmail.com or HP: +6626120365.


Note to Editors

The APTN is categorised according to seven sub-regions and seven key populations. Each group is represented as follows:

  • Danisha (Malaysia) for transgender drug users
  • Jetsada Taesombat (Thailand) for transgender youth
  • Jin Qiu (China) for China Sub-Region
  • Khartini Slamah (Malaysia) for senior transgender women
  • Laxmi Narayan Iripathi (India) for India Sub-region
  • Leona Lo (Singapore) for Developed Asia Sub-region
  • Luluk Surahman (Indonesia) for Insular Southeast Asia Sub-region
  • Manisha (Nepal) for South Asia Sub-region
  • Prempreeda Pramos Na Ayutthaya (Thailand) for the Greater Mekong Sub-region
  • Sam Sela (Cambodia) for transgender people living with HIV
  • Sulastri (Malaysia) for transgender sex workers
  • Zahida Hijra (Bangladesh) for hijras
  • Vacant – for transgender Muslims
  • Vacant – for Pacific Sub-region

About APTN

The mission of APTN is to enable transgender women in the Asia Pacific region to organise and advocate to improve their health, protect their human rights, and enhance their social well-being and the quality of their lives. The network startup is supported by the 7 Sisters Coalition of Asia Pacific Regional Networks on HIV/AIDS, Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM), and Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW)

Media Enquiries

Ms. Sitthiphan (Hua) Boonyapisomparn
APTN Coordinator
Email: huab2007@gmail.com
HP: +6626120365

Ms. Leona Lo
Founding Working Group member, APTN
Email: leona@talksense.biz
HP: +6597236075

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Between invisible friends

Crossposted from Himal Magazine

www.himalmag.com/Between-invisible-friends_nw3911.html

By Delwar Hussein

Bangladeshis thrive in and work against the ‘grey area’ of subtle acceptance of un-discussed alternative sexualities.

From a very young age, Suleman (not his real name) has known that he was attracted to men. He would wear his mother’s saris when she was out of the house, and put on his sister’s makeup in the belief that this is what men found appealing. Suleman also knew that he wanted to be an imam. He sought to understand the creation of the world, to find answers to questions about life after death. At 13 he joined a madrassa, where he began the required rigorous training, which included memorising the entire Quran and learning Arabic and Persian. Small in stature but with an imposing black beard, he is today dressed in a white kurta-pyjama with a matching skull cap. “Imams have a lot of responsibility,” he says. “The Malik has chosen me, even with all my flaws, to follow him. If I can fulfil even the slightest of his wishes, then Allah is pleased.”

Now 32, Suleman believes his education is still not over, although he is a teacher at the same madrassa at which he studied, leading the five daily prayers and also the Friday jumma at one of the largest mosques in Dhaka. His dry, husky voice, a result of the fiery sermons about how to lead an Islamic life, has a cheerful tinkle buried within it. Suleman made the decision to become a religious leader partly in the hope that it would bring an end to the desire he had for men, something he thought at the time to be outside the bounds of religious acceptability. As with the other Abrahamic religions, the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom, used by some Muslims to condemn homosexuality, was a narrative with which he was intimately familiar. In earlier years, Suleman tried controlling his feelings by praying and fasting obsessively, in the process excelling in the eyes of the scholars at the madrassa.

But his urges only became more intense. “All night in the madrassa dormitory, my eyes would see no sleep,” he remembers. “I wanted to be able to care for a man, marry him and give him physical pleasure.” One day, Suleman hesitantly shared his yearnings with a fellow student. They ended up having sex. Afterwards, he was meticulous about following the guidelines set out by Islamic scriptures on fornication. He had already recited a prayer before they slept together and then, afterwards, he went to the bathroom to wash his mouth, hands and entire body. Only then did he go to sleep. In the morning, he prayed for forgiveness and read the Quran. This turned out to be a pivotal moment. For the first time in his life, it dawned on him that what he had done was not wrong. In his prayers that day, he remembers questioning the almighty, “My friend and I needed and wanted to do this. It gave us peace of mind and body. Is this so wrong?”

Grey existence
Suleman hardly represents the norm in the world of Bangladeshi Islamic orthodoxy. “As all the fingers on our hands are of different shapes and sizes, not all imams are the same,” he says with a smile. I ask him whether he believes what he did was gunah, a sin. He has clearly given this much thought. “Love has always existed between men, even in the days of the Prophet, and it always will,” he says. He asks me whether I can name the worst sin a person can commit. I cannot. He replies that it is to give koshto, pain, to another. Giving koshto is the equivalent of destroying a mosque. “He has said that we should love one another, give each other joy and happiness. The Sharia even says this,” Suleman says. “When I am with the person I love, I am giving him pleasure, joy, affection, my body. He is doing the same in return. So where is the gunah in this?”


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CSBR Bangladesh: A first for the Queer members of Bengali society

Crossposted from CSBR e-news

http://www.wwhr.org/files/CSBR_Enews_Winter_2009.pdf

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Filed under Analysis of Homosexual Issues, Bangladesh LGBT events, Bangladesh- Policies and declarations, Boys of Bangladesh, Islam and Homosexuality, Media-Indian Subcontinent, Media-International

CSBR Bangladesh: Being Hijra (Transgender) in Bangladesh

Crossposted from CSBR e-news

http://www.wwhr.org/files/CSBR_Enews_Winter_2009.pdf

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CSBR Bangladesh: A pioneering research on sexuality and rights in Dhaka

Crossposted from CSBR e-news

http://www.wwhr.org/files/CSBR_Enews_Winter_2009.pdf

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CSBR Bangladesh: Sexuality and Pleasure in the Quran

Crossposted from CSBR e-news

http://www.wwhr.org/files/CSBR_Enews_Winter_2009.pdf

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CSBR Bangladesh: Debating sexual rights vs social norms

Crossposted from CSBR e-news

http://www.wwhr.org/files/CSBR_Enews_Winter_2009.pdf

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