Monday, February 18, 2019 | ePaper

Jobs for Third Gender in Bangladesh

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Gulam Rabbani :
Though the Bangladesh government has recognized the transgender or Hijra community as the Third Gender over five years back, they have to face different disparities in getting economic and social benefits in the country.
The source of income of Hijras in Bangladesh is basically begging and prostitution.
The lack of social acceptance, lack of access to education and the reluctance to get appointment in a formal job and many other causes are forcing the Hijras to choose such a work as a profession. But a number of Hijras are also now doing jobs in NGOs. It is noted that getting job in Bangladesh is too much difficult for every man and woman job seeker. In this satiation, Hijras, who are thought as socially stigmatized, have limited scope to be qualified enough to get a job.
The Hijra claimed inability of getting a mainstream job due to lack of education, 'unusual' non-conforming lifestyle unacceptable for the working environment.
Some got jobs but eventually were dismissed when employers learned of their feminine attitudes. In some cases, many Hijras were abused verbally, physically, and sexually at workplaces for which they never received any justice. They rather lost the job because the employers wanted to 'save the workplace from sexual pollution'.
"We, because of our feminine gesture, do not have access to any job. We are always kicked out from the job on the grounds of 'destroying' the job environment," said Ananya Banik Hijra, President of a Hijra community based welfare organization 'Sada-Kalo'.
Ananya depicted 'her' condition when 'she' worked in the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B):
"I worked in a project of the ICDDR,B for one year in 2012. There I was discriminated by the colleagues. When I got up the elevator, many of my colleagues avoided to get up the elevator. Even they did not expect me in the dining table with them."
"Almost all the members of the community are involved with begging profession and at least 25 to 30 percent Hijras are directly involved with prostitution," said Ananya.
Neela Hijra, 28, now works as a sex worker in the Ashulia area of Dhaka. Once Neela worked in a garment factory. After seven years successful job she was promoted as a Senior Operator. But with the disclosing of her feminine attitudes, authority forced her to leave the job.
"Among all those sufferings, a major part of the community wants to come back to the mainstream lifestyle of the society. And if any one extends his hand to the community for this purpose, the Hijras will welcome him/her," said Ananya.
She named two police officers, Habibur Rahman, Deputy Inspector General of Police and Bidhan Tripura, Superintendent of Police, Habiganj, who are helping the Hijra community to be self depended in a planned and alternative way.
Ornob Hijra is a university student who thinks that it is not possible for her to manage a job after completing her education. So, she thinks she will have to earn her livelihood by being a dancer only. As they have no way they collect money from bus by begging.
She told that it is also so challenging. She has bitter experience of being sexually harassed during collecting money in bus and other public transports.
Rezwana Karim Snigdha, Assistant Professor at the Department of Anthropology in Jahangirnagar University and also a researcher on transgender people, said, "Many transgenders are now self-reliant. Even they are helping their families. But most of them are very poor. So, they are forced to engage some unexpected jobs. Many countries adjusted them in formal work places. But we are lagging behind. Government should take special initiatives for them."
Kazi Reazul Hoque, Chairman, National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh, said, "Our Constitution has ensured equality of opportunity to all citizens. So, a Hijra people cannot be deprived in any sector for her gender identity. But our society has created some barriers for them. We are trying to break those barriers."

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