Bangladesh’s hijra marked five years since the government agreed to recognize their gender identity on Sunday (11 November).
In a landmark decision in 2013, the government recognized its Hijra population as a third gender.
In South Asia, Hijra refers to a third gender. Hijra may have been assigned male at birth and live as women. Some also identify as trans or intersex or just as Hijra.
According to Bangladesh’s Social Welfare Ministry about 10,000 hijras live in the country.
On Sunday, the community launched a programme titled ‘open air’, aimed at connecting Hijra with the mainstream community.
Events took place throughout the capital Dhaka, according to the Dhaka Tribune.
Community organization ReThink Bangladesh shared photos of Hijra drawing henna on visitors to the events.
‘We want these community members to join with the mainstream of our society’ ReThink volunteer Shahjalal Hredoy told the Dhaka Tribune.
‘Many people have come here to wear henna drawn by the hijras. They wish for all members of the community to succeed in life’ they said.
Fight for rights
Despite recognition five years ago, the community still faces extremely high levels of discrimination and violence.
Many live in tightly-knit communities. Their family and friends often reject them. Many Hijras make money by performing ceremonies, begging, or sex work.
Bangladesh also does not have a policy outlining the measures people must take to legally change the gender on their official documents.
‘Hijras should lead lives as normal people’ said Chaity, the new official. ‘The attitude and mindset of society has to change in order to ensure that hijras do not have to do what they are forced to do for money,’ she said.