A religious charity has launched the first Quranic school for transgender people in Bangladesh. The hijras, as they are called in the Asian country, they suffer widespread discrimination in a society marked by Islamic conservatism and often live in extreme poverty.
It is common for families to expel their sons hijras in childhood, who, by not receiving formal education, are forced to live badly by asking or in prostitution.
"Transsexuals are also human beings, and they also have the right to education and to live a dignified life," says Abdur Rahman Azad, one of the clergymen who have transformed the third and last floor of a building in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. in a madrassa or Koranic school. In addition to reading the Quran and the basic principles of Islam, classes in Bengali, English, mathematics and vocational training will be taught at the venue.
"We have a plan to open schools (for hijras) throughout the country so that no one is without training. We have started with just over a hundred students, who will learn about Islam and also vocational training. We hope to train them to become employable, "said Azad.
The government estimates that there are about 10,000 hijras in Bangladesh, but there are groups that defend their rights that claim that the figure may reach 1.5 million in a country of more than 160 million inhabitants. Despite the official decision in 2013 to recognize them as "third sex", they remain marginalized in a country where homosexual relations are illegal and can carry up to a life sentence.
"I'm so excited. This school is a ray of hope," says Sona Solani, 30, one of the school's students. "They always look at us over their shoulders. They don't accept us anywhere, not even in our own home," he says with his voice taken by emotion. "I want to show society that we can be equal and show that we are not limited by begging, that our lives are much more than that."
Flight of gays to Thailand
Seven months ago, militants with ties to Al Qaeda hacked to death the country's leading gay rights activist. A small group of about 15 people have fled to Thailand seeking refuge. "The entire (gay) community has been returned to the closet," says one of them, who remains anonymous to avoid reprisals. "Any kind of action, whatever it was, has been canceled. There is no movement, no visibility, no work. It is a horrible situation, which we would never have imagined."
In 2014 the first LGBT publication in the country was born, Roopbaan, which aroused both the interest of the media and social networks and threats. On April 25, its founder and publisher, Xulhaz Mannan, and gay actor Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy were hacked to death at the former's home in Dhaka.
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