Demanding special provisions for ‘Hijra’ community, a legal notice has been served to various government ministries in Bangladesh. The notice seeks monthly stipends, separate educational institutions and civic facilities to the ‘marginalized ‘Hijra’ community in the country.
The notice requests the authorities to ensure constitutional rights and take appropriate steps for the welfare of the hijras community within 30 days of receiving the legal notice, failing which, the notice says, a writ petition will be filed as per Article 102 of the constitution in accordance with the instructions of Article 44 of the constitution to implement the constitutional rights of the hijra community.
The notice also demands a monthly allowance to every ‘Hijra’ in the country akin to the facilities like monthly allowances which the government provides to different communities of the country, such as old age allowance for the elderly citizens of the country, monthly allowance for brave freedom fighters, various food assistance for the large population of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, etc.
Besides raising a demand for separate schools, colleges and universities the notice said ‘Hijras’ should be provided employment by the state, the notice demanded.
Highlighting the plights of the Hijracommunity, the notice seeks the benefit under Article 28(4) of the Bangladesh Constitution, which allows special provisions for any backward community in the state.
A rough media estimate of 2020 points out, number of hijras in Bangladesh ranges from 10000 to 50,000 out of 160 million people.
According to a paper published in 2022, Discrimination and social exclusion of the third-gender population (hijra) in Bangladesh, Hijras in Bangladesh face numerous social, cultural, economic, and political hurdles. While many third-gender people (individuals who identify as hijra) contribute to their communities and help society grow, many have faced severe prejudice and discrimination due to their sexual orientation. None of Bangladesh’s anti-discrimination laws focuses on protecting the rights of sexual minorities or the recognition of gender diversity.
Findings of the report show that Hijras are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged populations in Asian-Pacific countries, who confront unique obstacles compared to other sexual identity communities. The Hijra community is marginalized in social, political, and economic life, especially stigmatized in society.
The report recommends that “it is imperative to thoroughly investigate the hijra community’s issues and challenges.”
The legal notice mentions, although the Ministry of Social Welfare of Bangladesh, in 2013, made a policy for the development of Hijras but it is limited on paper and has failed to play a proper role in the welfare of hijras. As a result, hijras are living miserable lives and are forced to seek help from other people for their survival.
The notice was served by Supreme Court of Dhaka lawyer Md Mahmudul Hasan to the secretaries of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Law.