Bangladesh To Recruit Transgenders In Their Police Force. Is India Taking Note? - Homegrown

Bangladesh To Recruit Transgenders In Their Police Force. Is India Taking Note?

The familiar sight of 'hijras' or transgenders at traffic signals was strong enough to catalyse the viral (and brilliant) Seat Belt Crew video campaign last year. And while it may appear as though we already have an alternate traffic police force in place, our neighbour is certainly a step ahead.

The Government of Bangladesh has decided to recruit transgenders, commonly regarded as ‘hijras’ in the Indian subcontinent, as traffic police officials from the next fiscal year. According to the Dhaka Tribune report, this decision is an attempt to rehabilitate individuals of the third gender in order to provide them employment avenues for self-sustenance. The appointments would also pay heed to the educational qualifications of hijras, and not just their gender identity. This breakthrough move has been made possible after the third gender was officially recognised by the Bangladesh government in November 2013, where the ruling awarded them the right to identify themselves as ‘hijra’ on all government documents, including passports. Something India would do well to take a cue from.
No matter how ‘progressive’ India’s position may be in the subcontinent, it only recognized transgenders as the third gender in April 2014, while the community had gained official status in Pakistan long ago in the year 2009. Centres of higher education such as University of Delhi and Jamia Millia Islamia followed suit this year by including the ‘other’ option in the gender category, apart from ‘male’ and ‘female’.In most South-Asian countries, transgenders have long been ostracised and violated, constantly battling the tentacles of a ruthlessly obstructionist society that bars them from leading a respectful lifestyle. In a quest to earn their livelihood, they resort to singing, dancing, begging, and unfortunately, even prostitution for a majority of them. While Bangladesh, with a transgender population of around 10,000, celebrated its first queer march last year in Dhaka, India’s financial capital Mumbai, witnessed its seventh LGBT pride in the same year. The real challenge however, lies in assimilating the transgenders, who are disowned by their families or are enshrined in their gharanas, into the day-to-day fabric of the society where they would be able to enjoy a life of dignity and honour, or at least a life afforded with the same opportunities as everybody else.
An Indian advertisement, playing on the rather intimidating nature of hijras where they were seen giving safety instructions to the traffic on roads, went viral on the internet in 2014. Perhaps, it’s time to step up the game. Why not take a cue from the neighbour’s rule book to start with?

Words: Sushant Kumar

[If you enjoyed this article then perhaps you'd like to read more about India's strong political history of transgender mayors.


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