Terming the association with the Hijra identity a mental health problem, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Social Welfare on Thursday recommended taking necessary steps by the ministry concerned to identify real Hijras (transgender) through proper medical test, BSS has reported.
The committee made the recommendation in a meeting held at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban with committee chairman Rashed Khan Menon in the chair.
Such a recommendation has been in the works for the past few months, with rights bodies already decrying the attempt.
But the committee chair Rashed Khan Menon defended the recommendation saying, "We need an identification. We recommended two types of tests – one is physical test and the other is psychosocial test – because Hijra is a mental problem."
The committee recommended the tests because many males and females are found collecting money in disguise of Hijras, Menon said adding that many Hijra groups are led by men or women.
"When clash erupts between two Hijra groups, it comes out that the leader is not a genuine Hijra," he added.
Menon said that the parliamentary body recommended the move so that the social welfare department provide training and allowance to Hijra community.
Real Hijras should get these opportunities, he added.
Joya Sikder, a transgender rights activist and also president of Somporker Noya Setu (SNS), a transgender rights organisation, earlier told The Business Standard that the government recognised the Hijra identity as an umbrella term.
"A Hijra and a transgender are not the same. A transgender person, for instance, is defined as people who was assigned one of the binary genders at birth and then began to identify as the other one. The Hijra, on the other hand, is a community. We have our own customs and traditions, and we live under a guru."
Joya also said many bodies gave lip-service to the protection of Hijra rights, but nothing concrete ever happened.
Ananya Banik, a member of the Hijra community and a rights worker, said, "Is there a test to 100% prove the sexual nature of a man or woman? I will only take a test to prove I'm a Hijra if others take the test to prove they are a man or a woman."
A 2016 report by Human Rights Watch found that after the social welfare ministry had invited Hijra individuals for government employment in 2014, the applicants were put through a humiliating and draining session of proving their gender.
They were asked inappropriate questions while physicians told non-medical staffers to report on their genitals after patting them down.
The private photographs of 12 Hijras who had passed the interviews and had to sit through the medical exams were then released on print and online platforms, claiming that those were really men and thus "fake" Hijras.
In today's JS meeting, the implementation progress of the decisions of the 22nd meeting, the activities of child development center under the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the social services hospitals were discussed in detail.
The parliamentary watchdog also suggested sending a letter from the Ministry of Social Welfare to the Ministry of Finance to meet the daily-food needs of the Child Development Center run by the DSS.
The committee members recommended providing one-time payment from the Ministry of Social Welfare for the treatment of six complicated and incurable diseases through cheques in the presence of local public representatives.
Members of the committee, Social Welfare minister Nuruzzaman Ahmed, Md Shibli Sadique, Bodruddoza Md Farhad Hossain and Aroma Dutta attended the meeting, among others, said a press release.
State Minister for Social Welfare Md Ashraf Ali Khan Khasru joined the meeting on special invitation, the release added.
The government in November 2013 recognised the Hijra community as the third gender and the Ministry of Social Welfare published a gazette notification in January 2014 stating that the Hijra community shall be recognised as the "Hijra sex/gender" (Hijra lingo).
The recognition did not deal with other communities and individuals who have non-normative gender and sexual identities or do not conform to the gender assigned to them a birth. None of these individuals belongs to the Hijra culture.