Category Archives: Bangladesh Trans Issues

Living on the Extreme Margin: Social Exclusion of the Transgender Population (Hijra) in Bangladesh

Sharful Islam Khan1, Mohammed Iftekher Hussain1, Shaila Parveen1, Mahbubul Islam Bhuiyan1,Gorkey Gourab1, Golam Faruk Sarker1, Shohael Mahmud Arafat2, and Joya Sikder3


1Social and Behavioural Sciences Unit, Public Health Sciences Division, ICDDR,B, GPO Box 128, Dhaka1000, Bangladesh,2Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka1000, Bangladesh, and 3Badhan Hijra Sangha,Kuril, Dhaka 1229, Bangladesh

ABSTRACT
The transgender people (hijra), who claim to be neither male nor female, are socially excluded in Bangladesh.This paper describes social exclusion of hijra [The term is used in this abstract both in singular and plural sense] focusing on the pathway between exclusion and sexual health. In an ethnographic study,50 in-depth interviews with hijra, 20 key-informant interviews, and 10 focus-group discussions (FGDs),along with extensive field observations, were conducted. The findings revealed that hijra are located at the extreme margin of exclusion having no sociopolitical space where a hijra can lead life of a human being with dignity. Their deprivations are grounded in non-recognition as a separate gendered human being beyond the male-female dichotomy. Being outside this norm has prevented them from positioning themselves in greater society with human potential and security. They are physically, verbally, and sexually
abused. Extreme social exclusion diminishes self-esteem and sense of social responsibility. Before safer sex interventions can be effective in a broader scale, hijra need to be recognized as having a space on society’s gender continuum. Hijra, as the citizens of Bangladesh and part of society’s diversity, have gender, sexual and citizenship rights, that need to be protected.

Read the full article here: http://www.icddrb.org/images/JHPN274-Living_on_the_Extreme_Margin_Social_Exclusion_of_the_Transgender_Population(Hijra)_in_Bangladesh.pdf

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Comments by Ashok DEB:

Joya Sikdar

Joya Sikdar

This research paper has been published by ICDDR- B and prominent Trans Right activist Joya Sikdar has actively contributed to this article. This can be conceived as a step in the right direction as we need the members of the Trans Community to speak out for themselves.Generally the trans population in Bangladesh are unethically utilized by the research workers to gather a glimpse into their secretive lives and societies. Generally these researchers, some of them have even self-appointed themselves Hijra Experts of Bangladesh, have treated these individuals from an anthropological point of view, rather ignoring the massive human rights violations,anti-pathy and societal marginalization these individuals suffer in Bangladesh.

Presently the Trans community needs to identify resourceful members within its own community to steer them into a direction where they can co-exist within the conservative Islamic fabric of Bangladesh. This research paper vividly describes the discrimination, persecution, physical abuses and rights violation that the Trans community in Bangladesh are being subjected to relentlessly.

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Filed under Analysis of Homosexual Issues, Bangladesh persecution of Homosexuals, Bangladesh Trans Issues, Islam and Homosexuality, Media-Indian Subcontinent

Laila Hijra passes away

Crossposted from the Bideshis Blog.

http://thebideshis.wordpress.com/2009/09/19/laila-hijra-passes-away/

The words in the article WE and US refer to Sebastian Rist and Aude Leroux, two indviduals who are working on an documentary project on Bangladeshi Transexuals.

Picture of Laila Hijra in 2008-courtesy of Maciej Dakowicz

We got the news that on Tuesday september 18th, Guru Laila Hijra passed away.

Even though certain Hijra groups tend to clash, everybody could agree that they highly respected and admired Laila Hijra. Being one of the first Hijras in Bangladesh to speak out publicly  about their community’s  issues, Laila gained notoriety both on a nation and international level. She was one of the founding members and president until her death of ‘Shustha Jibon’; the first (and officially recognized by international ngos) Hijra community center of Bangladesh.

Shustha Jibon is one of the places where we teach our English classes to Hijras. We met Laila Hijra when we tried to convince her and her team to let us come and help out. Quiet and reserved, Laila was very kind and open to our idea, giving us advice but also being very efficient and organized with her decision making.We thank her for accepting us into her community, and we thank her for  giving us the opportunity to meet such wonderful people. Without her, our project wouldn’t be where it’s at right now.

I can’t imagine how the members of Shustha Jibon are feeling right now.

Are thoughts are with her friends and her family.

To view more pictures from Maciej Dakowicz click here


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Evergreen Documentary Project receives French funding

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By Ashok DEB

Sebastian Rist and Aude Lerox are two dedicated individuals  working on an educational documentary project on Bangladeshi Transexuals, namely the Hijra community ,who are worst affected by societal anti-pathy and Transphobia. Sebastian and Aude have been staying in Dhaka for over an year now and runs three schools for the Hijra Communities. In fact these two individuals could be perceived as the next generation Hijra experts on Bangladesh,who have gained considerable insight of this impoverished and highly margnalised community.

Recently they have released a demo version of their documentary where few glimpses of societal atrocities and rejection on  Bangladeshi Trans community were framed.They have received assistance from a French production House for their project which was announced in this email below.

Hey people,

We’ve been waiting for the right moment to tell you, but we just recently signed a contract with a French production company. This is great news because it means that we will be guided by a team of professionals who will be there to give us support and advice along the way. We still have total creative control over the project and idea; the only difference is that the budget is slightly higher and the 52 minute Documentary has to be completed by the end of the year.

That said,  after a few delays we can officially say that the shoot will begin Sunday. We’ll try to post some production stills along the way. We’re really excited, Salma and Pinky are too!

Thanks to everyone  (Both in Canada and in Bangladesh) who have helped us get to where we are now,

Stayed tuned, there will be more to come,

Seb and Aude

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This is the demo release of their documentary project:

In English Subtitles:

In French Subtitles:


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Filed under Ashok DEB, Bangladesh LGBT events, Bangladesh Trans Issues, Media-Indian Subcontinent, Media-International

Evergreen Demo version released

Evergreen, a documentary & educational program currently in progress:

Evergreen is a documentary currently in production in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The demo was shot with a reduced crew and edited with personal equipment. This segment hopes to highlight the characters and style of the upcoming documentary.

Visit the following links to see the demo movie file:

In English Subtitles:

In French Subtitles:


Visit link to download demo move file: http://www.mediafire.com/?ndwbnh2ittl

To see how you can take part in this project please download the following PDF:
http://www.mediafire.com/download.php…

For more info please visit: http://thebideshis.wordpress.com/


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Filed under Bangladesh LGBT events, Bangladesh Trans Issues, Islam and Homosexuality, Media-Indian Subcontinent, Media-International

EVERGREEN: A documentary project on Bangladeshi Transexuals

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ScreenHunter_03 Aug. 26 18.01

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Filed under Bangladesh Trans Issues, Islam and Homosexuality, Media-Indian Subcontinent, Media-International

Daily Star newsline brews up Transphobia

Committed to PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO KNOW
Wednesday, August 26, 2009 05:04 PM GMT+06:00
Published On: 2009-06-25
Metropolitan
Hijra panic grips city dwellers
Alpha Arzu
City dwellers remain in a state of panic nowadays due to frequent attacks of hermaphrodite (hijras) populace who suddenly come to the houses or make attacks on individuals at different signal points for money or other goods.

Hijras attacked Shamima Akhter, mother of a two-month-old son, at her Gulshan residence where she lives with her husband.

She said, “I went to the veranda after hearing shouting of my guard around 11:00am yesterday and found some five to six hijras beat up my guard as he refused to allow them to the house.”

“I got panicked and called my husband, who was also harassed by the group of hijras. They demanded Tk 5,000 for our kid’s welfare, otherwise they would kidnap my son,” said Shamima.

The doting mother also said, “We finally paid them Tk 2000 after much hard bargaining. We have already decided to change our house from this area as they [hijras] frequently come.”

Runu Ahmed, mother of a newborn, of Sector-13 at Uttara Model Town said, “I’ve been observing some hijras moving around our house in the last few days. On Friday, when my husband and father-in-law went to the mosque for Juma prayers, they entered the house skipping the wall.”

“It was horrible as my mother-in-law was sick, and I just cured after my delivery 10 days before. So, we got panicked and called the police, who rescued us by paying Tk 500 on that day,” said Runu, wife of Jewel Ahmed, a high official of a private phone company.

The couple explained how they had fallen victim to the eunuchs second time just after three days. This time they [hijras] were saying with more offensively: “Police never do anything against us, and as you called police on Friday, you would have to pay more Tk 1000 and the grand total is Tk 6000 today.”

After an hour’s bargaining, the family got relief of the harassment after the intervention of the Rapid Action Battalion, who came to the place after getting a phone call from their neighbour, said Runu.

Officer-in-Charge (OC) ABM Zakir Hossain of Uttara Model Police Station told The Daily Star, “Earlier, we received at least 15 calls each day. The number is on the decrease now.”

“We have met the hijras several times and offered 300 hijras jobs at a time at a garment factory, but they refused to work, he said.

About 150 hijras live in different slums at Uttara, the OC said, adding, “Hijras ensured us at a meeting that they would not charge the exorbitant amount. The amount was fixed between Tk 200 and Tk 500, which was Tk 2000 and Tk 5000 earlier.”

“People now get panicked instead of showing kindness to them for their attacking and offensive behaviour,” said Zakir.

Hijras also attacked the commuters at different signal points where cars and other vehicle stopped for few minutes, said a victim, who recently lost a mobile phone and a wallet from his own car at Mohakhali.

“Suddenly, they come to the car and try to enter the vehicle by force or start to scold in very offensive language and gesture,” said the victim.

The hijras also attack the different construction firms who are constructing the new building. They come to the project site and demanded money, otherwise they take construction materials, including rod, wood and others, which also cost Tk 1000 to Tk 2000, said Mahmudul Hasan Prince, site manager of Nandan Kanon Developers.

Kachi, a hijra community leader of Uttara, told this correspondent, “We are human by born, not by sexual identity; but people always neglect us to live in a society or a family. So, we have to find new ways to survive.

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Hijras take to Dhaka catwalk in unique awareness campaign

Wed, Aug 19th, 2009 1:00 am BdST

By Fahmida Wadud Chaity

Dhaka, Aug 18 (bdnews24.com)—The audience at a show titled “Agony and Ecstasy,” at the National Museum on Tuesday, were treated to a unique event as Hijras took to the catwalk in a fashion show as part of the programme’s aim to to sensitise the larger community on transgender issues.

The programme, also aiming to create awareness about the risks of HIV/AIDS and drug-use, was organised by the Bandhu Social Welfare Society, which works for the wellbeing of the socially excluded “males and their partners” through the provision of sexual health services, support of their human rights and alternate livelihoods.

Shale Ahmed, executive director of BSWS told bdnews24.com, “They are regularly stigmatised in many ways, which harm their self esteem. They tend to think they are useless. They feel isolated and excluded.”

“This particular programme is a part of our protest against the stigma. It is an effort to make the community feel empowered.”

The fashion show aimed to showcase the Hijra/transgender sense of fashion and style. Their vivid make overs, performance and attitude on the catwalk expressed self-belief and appeal.

“We wanted to give them a sense of empowerment, so that they can feel they too can contribute in the society.”

People from all walks of society attended the “dazzling event”. Tisa, a trendy young member of the audience, said, “I really liked it. It is amazing to think that a Hijra fashion show can take place in Bangladesh.”

The chance to perform in a glitzy fashion show, at the National Museum auditorium, in front of a diverse audience will certainly boost the Hijras’ confidence and at the same time sensitise people about their issues, Shale said.

Asked if BSWS had any intention to promote ‘Hijra culture’ in the larger community, he said, “We are in exactly in the process of doing that. Bringing many of them together from different parts of Bangladesh was very difficult. They were scattered before coming under our umbrella.”

“But those who were interested to work for their own community, we gave them the chance by setting up their own centres.”

The centres, named Shustho Jibon (Healthy Life), are managed by the Hijras themselves. BSWS’s role is to provide logistical support.

The Hijras, who find few opportunities to make a living outside the sex trade, gain self-esteem, vocational and life skills training such as sewing and dancing, as well as information on the risks of drug-use, HIV/AIDS and other STDs through the centres.

Speaking of society’s prevailing attitude to this marginalised and stigmatised community, Shala said, “The way they are, they are. It is not a matter of right or wrong. It is our problem that we cannot accept them.”

BSWS envisions a society where every person, irrespective of their gender and sexuality preferences, is accepted as equal.

Twenty-eight year-old Payel, who took to the catwalk that evening, said, “I am so happy to be here and taking part in the fashion show.”

Payel, who joined Shustho Jibon 11 years ago, said, “We are working for our own well-being and human rights.” She said they also try to check HIV/ AIDS and other STDs within their community.

“I have gained confidence joining Shustho Jibon, and of course after taking part in this show tonight!”

None of Payel’s family came to cheer her on the catwalk but, on a personal note, she told bdnews24.com that her family did keep in touch with her.

Payel is lucky. Many Hijras are disowned by their own families. “Initially it was tough to convince my family about my activities and our community. But now they are fine with it,” she said.

“I am what I am from the day I came out from my mother’s womb. There was nothing to do about it, but to accept it,” said Payel.

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