The gender-diverse population of Bangladesh has been facing a wide range of stigma and violence, including sexual assault and rape by members of the mainstream community, forced marriages, abuse from family, denial of inheritance and much more, a study has revealed.
Some 98 percent of the population faces harassment, stigma, and discrimination, while 97 percent face police entrapment and harassment in public places, said the study, titled "Political Economy Analysis for Gender Diverse Communities in Bangladesh".
Bandhu Social Welfare Society, a non-government organisation working for the rights of the sexual minority, organised a programme to disseminate findings of the report at The Daily Star Centre.
The study was conducted among 346 respondents in five districts -- Chattogram, Dhaka/Gazipur, Mymensingh, Narayananj and Rajshahi between January and April last year. Aged from 15-65, they included sex workers, dancers, activists, students, service holders, entrepreneurs and others.
Prof ASM Amanullah from Dhaka University presented the paper. The programme was moderated by Md Moshiur Rahman, deputy manager of Bandhu.
According to 98 percent of respondents, policymakers and stakeholders are not sensitised to the gender-diverse community, their culture and behaviour, the study showed.
Although the third gender was recognised by the government in 2013, they have continued to face extreme discrimination in every aspect of their lives -- from accessing healthcare services, education, safe living spaces, public transports to constitutional rights.
The study also revealed that 82 percent of respondents have no permanent income. A vast majority of them have no permanent jobs or do not get any formal job due to their behaviour, lack of education, and adverse attitude of the society.
Although the third gender has been included in voter registration, 86 percent of respondents said they have no separate voter list, 83 percent think political parties are not thinking about them and 77 percent believe political parties do not have any specific agenda for them.
Focus group discussions findings also point out that although sometimes they have been used to entertain political campaigns, they are victims of sexual harassment by political leaders and are often tortured by the police over false accusations.
90 percent respondents also said they face mental and sexual harassment while receiving health services, while 88 percent said their sexual and reproductive health needs are not adequately addressed.
"If we really want inclusive as well as sustainable development, we must include our sexual and gender diverse population, because the key agenda of SDG is leaving no one behind," said Saleh Ahmed, executive director of Bandhu while speaking at the event.
Prof Md Farhadul Islam, member of National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) assured that from this year, they are going to revise the curriculum, including the issue of the third gender and gender-diverse population in it.
M Rabiul Islam, deputy director, member secretary of Transgender, Dalit, and other excluded minority committee of National Human Rights Commission; and Slavica Radosevic, political processes team lead of USAID Bangladesh spoke at the event, among others.