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Bangladesh’s trans community have been granted full voting rights

Bangladesh’s trans community have been granted full voting rights

bangladesh hijra trans

The trans community of Bangladesh has finally been granted the right to register to vote under their correct gender identity.

Government officials have allocated a specialist ‘third gender’ on the national voters’ list for the country’s trans community, commonly known as hijra.

Prior to the change, Bangladeshi voters could only sign up as men or women. This caused many hijras to avoid voting as they did not feel properly represented.

Bangladesh has made progress with recognizing the rights of hijras in the past, and legally recognize a third gender.

However, hijra remain one of the most marginalized communities in Bangladesh.

‘Now they can identify themselves as hijras on the national voters’ list’

Abdul Baten, the Director of National Identity Registration, praised the move.

‘From now onward, a third gender individual can be a voter with their own identity, as a hijra,’ said Baten.

‘The press has already been ordered to print the new forms. Now they can identify themselves as hijras on the national voters’ list.’

Government estimates say that there are around 10,000 hijra in the country of 163 million people.

However, trans rights group Bandhan Hijra Singha says the number is actually closer to 100,000, the Telegraph reports.

Dating back to 400 BC

Hijras are a minority group native to South Asia. The term ‘hijra’ is used to refer to eunuchs, transgender and intersex people.

Records detailing hijra as far back as the publication of the Kara Sutra in 400 BC.

Bangladesh’s government has made a number of significant moves in recent years to improve the rights of hijras.

In 2013, the country followed its South Asian neighbors in granting full legal rights under a ‘third gender’.

A most significant step occurred in January when the government announced that hijras could run for office in Bangladesh’s National Parliament.

However, societal discrimination against the hijra remains rampant in Bangladesh.

There are numerous instances of physical and verbal abuse being directed toward hijra by religious groups.

Hijra often struggle to find jobs and are routinely deprived of basic healthcare and housing rights.

This has led to many being forced to live in poverty.

People who have sex with hijra are also stigmatized in Bangladesh, which has put them at increased risk of mental health problems contracting HIV.

See also

Could Bangladesh be set to get its first transgender MP?

Main suspect arrested in violent murder of Bangladeshi LGBTI activist

Bangladesh’s trans community marks five years of official recognition