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 Post subject: Re: Bangladesh and sex
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:39 am 
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Bangladesh officially recognizes hijra as separate gender
12 November 2013
By Joe Morgan

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Bangladesh will be recognizing hijras as a third gender.

Bangladesh will be officially recognizing hijra as a separate gender.

Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina announced the third possible gender identity at a cabinet meeting last night (11 November). Hijra come under the umbrella of trans identity, but are more similar to intersex individuals. The majority have a physiologically male body but they have a female identity. They may have also taken further surgical steps to feminize themselves. But most importantly, they do not consider themselves women or gay.

Under the new Government policy, the rights will be secured, and will enable them to identify their gender as ‘hijra’ in all government documents including passports. The measure is aimed at ending discrimination in education, health and housing. ‘There are at least 10,000 hijras in Bangladesh,’ Cabinet Secretary Muhammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said. ‘They are being denied their rights in various sectors including education, health and housing because of being a marginal group.’ He also said they will be referred as hijras in both English and Bangla. ‘Any other translations in English is misleading,’ he said.

But this is an important step for trans and intersex rights in the South Asian country, where people are banned from transitioning and being recognized as their true gender. Omar Kuddus, a Bangladeshi LGBT activist, told GSN he feared the possible risks over identifying hijras as a separate gender. ‘In Bangladesh already, there is a lot of discrimination,’ he said. ‘Many hijras earn their living by people giving them money because they think they’re going to curse them otherwise. Many also work as sex workers. By passing this policy, the Government could end up identifying these people as targets for persecution and discrimination.’

Homosexuality is still punishable in Bangladesh with jail time from 10 years to life.

Source: GayStarNews.

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 Post subject: Re: Bangladesh and sex
PostPosted: Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:13 am 
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Bangladesh gets first magazine for LGBTI people
21 January 2014
By Andrew Potts

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The launch of Roopbaan

Bangladesh saw the launch of its very first magazine for the LGBTI community on Saturday at an invite only event.

The magazine is named Roopbaan – after a character from a Bangladeshi folk tale who will go to extraordinary lengths for love - and its first edition is 56 pages long and published in the Bangla language.

‘We are super excited!’ the magazine’s editor told the Dhaka Tribune at the launch, calling Roopbaan ‘a major leap forward’ for the Bangladeshi LGBTI community. ‘The main reason for this publication is to promote love,’ the editor said, ‘promoting love and promoting the right to love. The audience for love is huge and that’s who this is for. I feel that I have a relationship with every line and letter in this magazine. A relationship that has cast such an influence on me.’

The launch of the magazine was attended by the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Robert Gibson, who noted the recent recriminalization of homosexuality in India. ‘The problem in our country is many are taking the issue politically,’ Gibson said. ‘But this is about personal freedom. We need to take careful steps, and we don’t want our development to be hindered by a wrong step.’

The magazine hopes to collect contributions from volunteer writers and photographers. Bangladesh inherited a colonial era British anti-sodomy law which punishes gay sex with fines and 10 years to life in jail.

Source: GayStarNews.

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 Post subject: Re: Bangladesh and sex
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 3:29 pm 
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Bangladesh's oldest brothel closed after Islamist pressure
14 July 2014

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Bangladeshi residents carry away a bed as the 200-year-old Kandapara brothel is knocked down in Tangail on July 14, 2014. Bangladesh's oldest brothel has been shut down following pressure from local clerics and politicians amid rising conservatism in the Muslim-majority country, police said. AFP Photo

DHAKA (AFP) -- Bangladesh's oldest brothel has been shut down following pressure from local clerics and politicians amid rising conservatism in the Muslim-majority country, police said Monday.

More than 750 prostitutes in Tangail city were forced out of a cluster of houses that made up the 200-year-old Kandapara brothel on Sunday after the dwelling's owners ordered them shut, an officer said.

District police chief Saleh Mohammad Tanvir said the owners made the decision after Muslim clerics and civil activists staged a march last week demanding the eviction of the sex workers. "On Sunday, the house owners of the brothel issued a notice ordering all the sex workers to leave the brothel. They left without any protest," Tanvir said.

Islamists and other activists, bolstered by a conservative upsurge, have shut down about a dozen brothels across the country in recent years including the largest at Tanbazar, outside the capital of Dhaka. Prostitution is illegal in Bangladesh but the government has historically tolerated some brothels operating in the country.

Monowara Begum, who heads a sex-workers group at Kandapara, accused the local mayor, a ruling party official, of ordering the closure and threatening the women with violence. "He (the mayor) sent dozens of young men to the brothel on Saturday. Armed with sticks, they told us that we have only one hour to leave the place or they would burn down the brothel with kerosene. After that owners started dismantling their houses," she said. "The brothel's more than 773 girls were panicked. As they were leaving, their belongings such as televisions, fridges and furniture, which were loaded on seven trucks, were looted by local people," she said.

The mayor could not immediately be contacted for comment. The Bangladesh chapter of British charity ActionAid, which works for the rights of local sex workers, said the Kandapara brothel had been operating for about 200 years ago, set up during the British colonial era.

Source: AFP via Hurriyet Daily.

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 Post subject: Re: Bangladesh and sex
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 4:55 pm 
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Girls at risk as Bangladesh mulls lowering age of marriage, says HRW
By Nita Bhalla
October 13, 2014

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NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Millions of girls are at risk if the Bangladeshi government goes ahead with a proposal to lower the age of marriage to 16, Human Rights Watch warned on Monday.

The impoverished South Asian nation has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, despite a three-decade-old law which bans marriage for girls under the age of 18.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government was now considering an amendment to the Child Marriage Restraint Act, which would also lower the age of marriage of men to 18 from 21."Setting the age of marriage for girls in Bangladesh at 16 would be a terrible step in the wrong direction," said Liesl Gerntholtz, HRW's women's rights director. "The rate of child marriage in Bangladesh is already off the charts.

Meher Afroze Chumki, Bangladesh's junior minister for women and child affairs, said no firm decision had been made yet. "We will discuss the proposal in detail and whatever is suitable for society, we will do that based on a consensus," Chumki told Reuters. "There are certain countries where even 14 years is allowed to get married. To avoid any illicit relations or living together, we will consider (changing) the law."

Bangladesh has the second-highest rate of child marriage in the world, after Niger, says the United Nations children's agency, UNICEF. About 74 percent of Bangladeshi women currently aged 20 to 49 were married or in a union before 18. Human rights campaigners say child marriage triggers a series of violations that continues throughout a girl's life such as rape, domestic violence and forced pregnancies. It starts with forced initiation into sex and on-going sexual violence, resulting in early and unplanned pregnancy, which may put her life or that of her child's at risk.

Girls married as children are often denied the chance to go to school and are isolated from society and forced into a lifetime of economic dependence as a wife and mother. Yet the practice continues largely due to a combination of social acceptance and government inaction, say activists. "Recent media reports indicate the prime minister's cabinet is considering a revision to the law to make 16 the minimum age of marriage for girls," HRW said in a statement. "The proposed revisions would reverse stated government aims to reduce child marriage among girls," Human Rights Watch said.

At a July summit, Hasina pledged to take steps to reduce, and ultimately end, child marriage in Bangladesh by 2041. She told the Girl Summit in London that she was committed to end marriage for girls under age 15 and reduce by more than one-third marriage among girls between ages 15 and 18 by 2021.

(Additional reporting by Serajul Quadir in Dhaka. Editing by Ros Russell)
Source: Reuters.

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 Post subject: Re: Bangladesh and sex
PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 7:38 am 
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The Crying Quarter
by Wasfia Nazreen
1 July 2010

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For an average sex-worker in Bangladesh, there is never any lovemaking.

There is no comfort zone, physical or mental. All life is but a rape. There is absolutely no guarantee that tomorrow's rape will be less painful than today's.

In 2000, prostitution was formally legalised in the country, which set the ground for Bangladesh to be one of the few Islamic countries that do not "officially" ban prostitution. The decision to legalise prostitution by the High Court was met with anger from some Islamic groups who argued that prostitution was subject to banishment in most Muslim countries. But, in its ruling, the High Court concluded: "The right to livelihood of sex workers is enforceable as a fundamental right."

Sex-workers in Bangladesh's registered brothels are officially regulated through a system of "licensing" involving magistrates or notary publics and registration with the local police. Even then, and like any other bordello, a wide variety of illegal and illicit activities flourish in the brothel community -- notably trafficking, underage sex, gambling, selling of liquor and taking of various drugs, including injecting hormones and cattle steroids.

On the banks of the Jamuna, where in the olden days shawdagars docked their ships and often wandered lonely is where today flourishes Kandapara, a brothel founded circa 1860-1880. The twenty years of disputed existence still remains unresolved amongst current inhabitants. This is the most ancient brothel of our country, after Tanbazar, which exists no more following its closure in 1998.

Kandapara is situated in the heart of Tangail district town, one hundred kilometres north of Dhaka city. About 855 female sex-workers thrive in the brothel, even though the total population is about 2,000 -- that includes sex-workers, their children, some parents, babus (fixed lovers/permanent clients), pimps, and landlady/landlord. These fifty-four homesteads situated on five acres of land are more or less entirely ruled by the pimps, i.e. shordarnis or madams, who are not only the main leaders of the bordello but the decision-makers in the lives of these women.

Perhaps life could be made more beautiful with intoxication in these ancient crying alleys (Kandapara literally translates to crying ward/quarter) and thus to cater to a haze of forgotten lives there is ample availability of liquor or drugs, both conventional and unconventional. For example, the once banned Indian product jambak (headache relieving balm) is widely taken by mouth as well as jutar glue (shoe-adhesive) or burnt house-lizard tail ground up and mixed with tobacco. Then there is the extensively popularised zhaka naka -- a cocktail of cough syrup, jambak, alcohol, heroin, and sleeping pills in liquid form. Zhaka naka is a super-hit amongst younger workers.

However, the worst is yet to come. Oradexon or "cow-fattening" steroids (yes, you read that correctly), is used to fatten cattle, and is widely used by shordarnis to embellish the age of young prostitutes so they may avoid police scrutiny about their legal age. Oradexon has the power to grow flesh, breasts and hips before the body's own natural course. At the same time it is highly addictive, and causes withdrawal symptoms including headaches, stomach pain, and severe skin rashes.

The dependency Oradexon creates can enforce one to abuse it in such a way that one can get hooked on it for years -- only to realise in the process the severity of its dark side: radical swellings and lumps, high blood pressure, impaired kidneys, fluctuating hormone productions, to name a few. Ironically, most workers embark on this thinking it would make them more beautiful (or thasha, as they put it), as they've been told, but in reality, after months of use, their bodies transform into a shadow of themselves. We have all kinds of anti-drug campaigns running nationwide but not many talk about these women.

Another rape committed, but again not held guilty or accountable for -- how a sex-worker's life lives and dies at the cruel mercy or manipulation of her shordarni. Typical costs of living in Kandapara can be as follows (all rates in taka):

Rent: 150/day; 4500/month, electricity: 1600/month, mattress/pillows: 50/day, blanket: 20/day, TV: 300, dish antenna/cable: 250, DVD player: 120, shower: 20/client, water supply for toilet usage: 10/client.

Of course, food and other bilashita vary from person to person. The day's payments need to be cleared by the end of the same evening, thus forcing the sex-workers to take at least twelve to fifteen customers per day despite their physical condition. If for any reason, she fails to pay her dues, it is customary for the shordarni to lock up her living quarters and/or resort to physical and verbal torture. Tortures vary, according to the nature of "the offense," ranging from putting out lit cigarettes on vaginas to inserting bottles of boiling water through the same path -- but all of them guarantee using the fear-technique that once the body is bruised, she'll receive fewer customers and thus less money for her survival.

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Shordarnis’ rates from their chukris are also subject to increase when local police authorities demand a higher chanda, which, in the case of Kandapara often equals around Tk 4 lakhs on average. As far as brothel-based sex-workers are concerned, the worst form of violence perpetrated against them is abasthol nirjaton. It's equivalent to when our deepest insecurities are sometimes taken advantage of by an abusive partner of ours for personal gain. In a similar manner, the living environment of sex-workers is constantly threatened and abused by their selfish cohorts to gain money, pleasure, or control. Sure, you must have heard of times of natural disasters when aid did not reach sex-workers, not because of lack of logistics but because of a clear-cut discrimination towards their profession.

But, these random acts of nature and their after-effects are a side story to the fact that land which belongs to these workers and their fore-bears for over a century gets threatened with being taken over whenever and however many times it is convenient. Like the shordarnis, we give sex-workers absolutely no voice or ground to fight for their rights. This introduces the question many of us wish to ignore, or feel powerless to change: like us, people of mainstream society, do they not have a right to healthy living, education, and medicine? Do their children not deserve the right to safe living and education?

The problem lies in the complexity of how our outdated constitution is currently shaped. Even though prostitution is legal, the Bangladesh constitution holds that the "State shall endeavor to prevent gambling and prostitution."

Various provisions of different laws prohibit child prostitution and forced prostitution, such as Section 366A: "Whoever, by any means whatsoever, induces any minor girl under the age of eighteen years to go from any place or to do any act with the intent that such a girl may be or knowing that it is likely that she will be, forced or seduced to illicit intercourse with another person shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine."

When it comes to the rights of brothel children, in addition to the household work, they are very much involved in paid work from an early age -- and it's not surprising if that involves the sex trade. Selling and delivering food to clients, dancing for clients in brothel shops and sex work is completely contrary to Bangladeshi laws and ILO Convention 182.

On trafficking, which is a regular incident here, the penal code holds:

    "Whoever, kidnaps or abducts any person under the age of ten, in order that such a person may be or subjected to slavery or to the lust of any person shall be punished with death or with imprisonment for life or for rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 14 years and may not be less than 7 years."

As evening approached, Habib started blasting out in full volume in the background. Smoke appeared in the air, the smell of ganja hovered, liquor served right to your hand. As I watched from one of the highest rooftops in the brothel, sex-slaves took their positions through the alley along with lazy dogs, goats, and cats that slept unworried on passageways and tin-tops. When one of them was going to be taken for the whole night, rates would vary depending on the customer's needs: regular charges range from Tk 50 to 200, but if you prefer without condom service, a good Tk 400-500 can get a client the pleasure of raw steaming sex, regardless of whether or not he wants the added stress of contracting HIV or other complications.

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Pregnant women, if they are lucky, may be treated a little differently. Despite the occasional beating, they receive some compassion from customers. I was amazed to learn that there is quite a high demand for them so I curiously asked how the feeling was, the client exclaimed: "Bozleyn na apa, dim ala maach khetey bhalo lagey keno, odeyr shorir bhora thakey!" (Do you not understand, sister, why fishes with eggs are so tasty? Because their bodies are so full!)

Since the legalisation and intervention of NGOs in different sectors of these female sex-workers' lives, awareness and some conditions have surely improved. However, the fact remains that members of the brothel community are still ostracised by mainstream society and that sex-workers have minimum or no rights when it comes to protecting their basic needs. As put by some workers, and attested by many of us, life of being a sex-worker is nothing but "porotey porotey nirjaton ..."

This past decade of Bangladesh's "dhori maach na chui pani" ("trying to fish without getting hands wet") policy towards sex-workers has not been healthy because the lack of a solid framework in the law for a firm conviction on their rights as "humans" fails to adequately protect them from the severity of their complicated lives.

There needs to be a regulatory framework that can be implemented for sex-workers, in the brothels, hotels, and floating arena. A systematic and sympathetic engagement from the greater part of Bangladeshi society and the rest of the world, as well as additional resources, will further ensure various NGO program intervention success. When it comes to NGO initiatives, we have to constantly be mindful of how many of these development initiatives with sex-workers' communities are centred around vocational trainings or providing alternate rehabilitations of their profession to those who consciously seek to get away.

Education, legal aid, and health sectors are no doubt crucial, but when a lot of these years-long half-baked and poorly designed programs end, due to shortage of funds or other reasons, it becomes problematic again. At the same time, it is crucial to understand that we cannot just cut a portion of livelihood from society that's been in existence for centuries. Policy-makers may work in the fields where one can arrange for an alternate occupation, but only after giving recognition to the root of the problem.

We have to first recognise the human fact that the greater percentage of these women is subject to this profession to keep their stomachs happy. That may or may not make ourselves feel better of the privileges that we have been born into in this life, and we can debate about the morality behind this all day and night -- but if our moral selves deny freedom and justice to a group within our race and oppressed sex, based on our own pre-conceptions of how filthy their occupation must be (the beneficiaries of which are not ourselves at the end of the day), then from the same ethical ground we should embrace the fact that no one would choose to live in a state of constant terror, threat, and subjugation. We cannot cover up the srom that has been earned at the cost of vandalising one's most sacred temple.

If one is using her own labour to earn money and livelihood, without robbing others and creating a public nuisance -- then who are the guilty here? Human beings who have become trade goods for such inhuman occupation, or the common spectators of society who have not been able to contribute to their safekeeping?

A major problem exists in the great legal barrier against the recognition of this work in the first place, thus their rights are nearly impossible to ensure. On the greater question of women's rights, all women must ask ourselves if the denial of rights for these women is not a denial of basic women's rights? And, even more to the point, is it OK to rape a sex worker because she is a sex worker? Or should we be reaffirming and ensuring right now that rape of all forms is absolutely not tolerable.

As the evening unfolded to midnight, I heard hundreds of suffocating screams hauntingly jamming my surrounding landscape, crisscrossing and scissoring the alleyways: "Come enter my body, for your and my survival … I'll entertain you on my altar ..."

Source: Daily Star.

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 Post subject: Re: Bangladesh and sex
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 2:11 pm 
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Bangladesh arrests 27 men on suspicion of being gay
19 May 2017

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) -- Authorities in Bangladesh on Friday arrested 27 men on suspicion of being gay, a criminal offense in the Muslim-majority country, and plan to charge them with drug possession, an official said Friday.

A commander of the Rapid Action Battalion, an elite police unit that made the arrests, said the suspects, mostly students aged 20-30 years, had traveled from across the country and were picked up in a raid on a community center at Keraniganj, outside the nation's capital, early Friday. Zahangir Hossain Matobbar said they recovered illegal drugs and condoms in their possession and plan to charge them with drug offenses and not homosexuality because they were detained before they engaged in sex. The agency also arrested the owner of the community center where the suspects used to gather every two months and stay overnight for party.

Last year, suspected militants killed a leading LGBT activist and his friend in Dhaka. The 35-year-old Xulhaz Mannan, a USAID official, was hacked to death in April last year at his home. He had founded the country's only LGBT magazine Roopbaan and was a leading organizer of gays, who are ostracized in Bangladesh. Since then, many of the gays and lesbians have left the country after they received death threats. Many still live double lives to avoid reprisals.

Homosexuality is a crime in Bangladesh under a law dating back to the British colonial rule, and it has never been amended. The law is rarely enforced.

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: Bangladesh and sex
PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 2:16 pm 
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Bangladesh LGBT editor hacked to death
25 April 2016

Bangladesh police say a top gay rights activist and editor at the country's only LGBT magazine is one of two people who have been hacked to death.

The US ambassador to Bangladesh condemned the killing of Xulhaz Mannan, who also worked at the US embassy. Another person was also injured when the attackers entered a Dhaka flat.

Since February last year suspected militants have killed several secular or atheist writers and members of religious minority groups. The two men were murdered two days after a university teacher was hacked to death by suspected Islamist militants. So-called Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility - but the Bangladeshi government insists there is no IS presence in the country.

"I am devastated by the brutal murder of Xulhaz Mannan and another young Bangladeshi," said US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat. "We abhor this senseless act of violence and urge the government of Bangladesh in the strongest terms to apprehend the criminals behind these murders," she added.

BBC Bengali Service editor Sabir Mustafa said staff at Roopbaan, a magazine and activist group for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community that had not been condemned by the government and received some support from foreign embassies, had been careful to protect their identities but had not believed their lives were at risk. Suspected extremists in Bangladesh are gaining a sense of security that they can carry out killings with impunity, he says.

A British photographer who knew Mr Mannan and the other victim, known as "Tonoy" and named in Bangladeshi media as Tanay Mojumdar, said they and other friends had set up Roopbaan with the aim of spreading tolerance.

Homosexuality is technically illegal in Bangladesh and remains a highly sensitive issue in society. Both men were openly gay and believed that if more gay Bangladeshis came out then the country would have to accept them, the photographer, who asked not to be named, said. They were also were behind the annual "Rainbow Rally", held on Bengali New Year, 14 April, since 2014. This year's rally was banned by police as part of widespread security measures. "Both were extremely gentle, non-violent and aware that being openly gay and active in their work was a personal danger," the photographer said.

Their killings were likely to spread fear among Bangladesh's gay community, he said. "Until a year ago the only threat to coming out was shame of the family and having to start a new life elsewhere in Bangladesh. Now it's one of danger," he said.

Meanwhile Bangladesh's best known blogger said he had received a death threat on Sunday. Imran Sarker, who led major protests by secular activists in 2013 against Islamist leaders, said he had received a phone call warning that he would be killed "very soon".

Source: BBC

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