More than half of the third gender population experience violence, discrimination and abandonment or sexual assault and abuse at early age in their natural families. This was said today at a panel discussion following a launch of a photo-book ”Leaving no one behind: Hijra Lives in Bangladesh”, in BICC, Dhaka.
Members of the third gender community, widely known as Hijras, face extreme discrimination in health, housing, education, employment, immigration, law, and any bureaucracy that is unable to place them into male or female gender categories. Most of them have very few employment opportunities. Many are forced to confine themselves to earn a living from performing at ceremonies, begging or engaging in sex work. Violence against Hijras is often brutal.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bangladesh and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have jointly presented today a coffee-table-style photo-book that takes us into everyday life of third gender persons across Bangladesh. And while going through pages of this book gives us an insight of where and how Hijras live, it also shows us the hardships of their lives - inability to find decent employment, uneasy access to healthcare and education, poor housing opportunities and constant discrimination.
Jhunjhuni from Dhaka, one of the third gender representatives, was quoted in the book: “We were born in our mother’s womb just like you. Then, is being a Hijra our crime?”.