Living on the Extreme Margin: Social Exclusion of the Transgender Population (<i>Hijra</i>) in Bangladesh

  • Sharful Islam Khan Social and Behavioural Sciences Unit, Public Health Sciences Division, ICDDR,B, Dhaka
  • Mohammed Iftekher Hussain Social and Behavioural Sciences Unit, Public Health Sciences Division, ICDDR,B, Dhaka
  • Shaila Parveen Social and Behavioural Sciences Unit, Public Health Sciences Division, ICDDR,B, Dhaka
  • Mahbubul Islam Bhuiyan Social and Behavioural Sciences Unit, Public Health Sciences Division, ICDDR,B, Dhaka
  • Gorkey Gourab Social and Behavioural Sciences Unit, Public Health Sciences Division, ICDDR,B, Dhaka
  • Golam Faruk Sarker Social and Behavioural Sciences Unit, Public Health Sciences Division, ICDDR,B, Dhaka
  • Shohael Mahmud Arafat Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, Dhaka
  • Joya Sikder Badhan Hijra Sangha, Kuril, Dhaka
Keywords: Hijra, HIV, Social exclusion, Bangladesh

Abstract

The transgender people (hijra), who claim to be neither male nor female, are socially excluded in Bangladesh. This paper describes social exclusion of hijra [The term is used in this abstract both in singular and plural sense] focusing on the pathway between exclusion and sexual health. In an ethnographic study, 50 in-depth interviews with hijra, 20 key-informant interviews, and 10 focus-group discussions (FGDs), along with extensive field observations, were conducted. The findings revealed that hijra are located at the extreme margin of exclusion having no sociopolitical space where a hijra can lead life of a human being with dignity. Their deprivations are grounded in non-recognition as a separate gendered human being beyond the male-female dichotomy. Being outside this norm has prevented them from positioning themselves in greater society with human potential and security. They are physically, verbally, and sexually abused. Extreme social exclusion diminishes self-esteem and sense of social responsibility. Before safer sex interventions can be effective in a broader scale, hijra need to be recognized as having a space on society's gender continuum. Hijra, as the citizens of Bangladesh and part of society's diversity, have gender, sexual and citizenship rights, that need to be protected.

Key words: Hijra; HIV; Social exclusion; Bangladesh  

doi: 10.3329/jhpn.v27i4.3388

J Health Popul Nutr 2009 Aug;27(4):441-451

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Author Biography

Sharful Islam Khan, Social and Behavioural Sciences Unit, Public Health Sciences Division, ICDDR,B, Dhaka
Dr. Sharful Islam Khan
Associate Scientist and Medical Anthropologist
Social and Behavioural Sciences Unit
Public Health Sciences Division
ICDDR,B
GPO Box 128
Dhaka 1000
Bangladesh
Email: sharful@icddrb.org
How to Cite
Khan, S., Hussain, M., Parveen, S., Bhuiyan, M., Gourab, G., Sarker, G., Arafat, S., & Sikder, J. (1). Living on the Extreme Margin: Social Exclusion of the Transgender Population (<i>Hijra</i&gt;) in Bangladesh. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, 27(4), 441-451. https://doi.org/10.3329/jhpn.v27i4.3388
Section
Original Papers