Gender diverse populations, including the Hijra community, are vulnerable to discrimination, stigmatisation and social persecution in the country’s conservative society, speakers at a discussion said yesterday.
They alleged that although the country’s constitution acknowledges all people as equal under the law, the reality is quite different.
Different stakeholders including government and non- government officials as well as rights activists came up with this observation while speaking at a discussion on “Hijra community progress and current situation in Bangladesh.”
Bandhu Social Welfare Society organised the discussion at The Daily Star Centre in the capital.
In his speech, district judge Ruhul Amin said that social and religious superstitions as well as different barriers must be eliminated to ensure the rights of Hijras.
“The government and NGOs should collaboratively introduce an action plan to deal with such issues,” said Ruhul, also a secretary of the Law Commission.
Law Ministry Joint Secretary Umme Kulsum said that Hijras first face discrimination in the family.
“Steps should be taken to increase awareness among their parents so that they consider Hijras as human beings first -- irrespective of their gender identity,” she recommended.
Kulsum further said that without establishing equal rights for people of all communities, the government would not be able to fulfill SDGs.
“It’s high time the government introduces Hijra repression prevention act, as members of this community are being deprived of proper health care and documented identity,” she said.
National Legal Aid Service Organization Director Aminul Islam said that members of the Hijra community are often sexually abused and are frequent targets of discrimination -- from childhood to death.
“Strict laws must be introduced besides initiating adequate rehabilitation programmes for them to eliminate such crisis,” he said.
Among others, Bandhu Social Welfare Society Executive Director Shale Ahmed, Dhaka University Law Department teacher Taslima Yasmin and at least 20 members from the Hijra community were present at the discussion.