Rally for Transgender rights in Bangladesh
 

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posted Friday, November 18, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 46

Rally for Transgender rights in Bangladesh
by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Human rights activists and public officials joined together in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to support the rights of the country's hijras.

While the Urdu word 'hijra' has no precise equivalent in English, it often refers to an individual born male but identifying and living as a woman, more or less the same as 'Transgender.' Sometimes it can also refer to someone of ambiguous or indeterminate gender, roughly equivalent to 'Intersex.'

According to the Bangladesh website bdnews24.com, students of the Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre's Group-E initiated a project to 'pull hijras to the mainstream of society.'

As part of the project, the Skill Development Project of the country's Education Ministry has organized a job training and placement program for hijras.

Information Secretary Hedayetullah Al Mamun reportedly organized a march and rally supporting hijra rights on November 14.

Mamun said at the rally at Dhaka University that public attitudes will have to be changed to push 'left-behind' hijras ahead, considering the overall development of the country.

'The constitution of Bangladesh says every group of people will have to be brought into the mainstream,' he said.

Rahman added that several government ministries and NGOs had formed a foundation to train and employ hijras.

'It will start working from November 15,' he said. 'A total of 32 hijras have already been trained and employed. The education ministry and the Vocational Education Board has helped us.'

The Social Welfare Ministry, Vocational Education Centre, Social Service Programme, Persona Institute, Bangladesh Chalachchitra Sangsad, and several other organizations joined the program.

There are reportedly some 35,000 hijras in Bangladesh.

Group-E leader Syed Ebadur Rahman said, 'Hijras are not well accepted in Bangladesh. Our goal is to change people's view towards them.'

Hijras are typically considered unemployable. Some are sex workers or street entertainers.

Many subsist by begging, reportedly humiliating men who refuse to give them money by singing lewd songs or loudly offering sexual services.

In 2006, the Indian city of Patna hired a group of hijras to collect unpaid taxes, in return for a four-percent commission.



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