Bangladeshi nonprofit opens first Islamic school for transgenders

Dhaka, Nov 9 (efe-epa).- A Bangladeshi nonprofit on Friday announced the opening of an Islamic religious school for transgender people in Dhaka, the first of its kind to accept members of the marginalized minority community, in an attempt to improve their social status.

Popularly known as hijras, transgenders have centuries-old social recognition in the Indian subcontinent, although they continue to face multiple forms of discrimination.

“Hijras often lead an indisciplined life for the lack of proper education. We felt if they could be integrated to the mainstream people of the society and given education they would get a good life,” Abdur Rahman Azad, director of the school established by the Bari Foundation, told EFE.

The organization has converted a three-floor building on the outskirts of Dhaka into a religious school, also known as a madrassa, where officials expect to provide free education to around 150 members of the transgender community.

The Bangladesh Hijira Kollyan Foundation, a group representing the community, welcomed the initiative and expressed hope that it would help transgenders live a “decent life.”

“We are a Muslim country and 90 per cent people here are pious (religious), but hijras don’t get proper education, so they are engaged in many anti social activities, like mugging, for livelihood,” said Abida Sultana, the chairperson of the Foundation.

“I hope people will also take the initiative to give them technical education,” she added.

Bangladesh officially recognized the transgender people as the third gender in 2013 and last year granted them the right to vote under this separate category.

Around 10,000 people are officially registered as transgenders in the country, although the Hijra Kollyan Foundation rejected the figure and said that the real number could be as high as 1.5 million. EFE-EPA


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