Bangla Tribune tells the story of hijra Jonak. Hijra refers to people who are born male but do not identify themselves as male and has full legal recognition in Bangladesh.
But Jonak’s story tells of a society and family that rejects him and even though highly educated, getting a job has been tough as hijra.
Despite having qualification Jonak Hijra failed to get a job
Written by Md. Amanur Rahman Roney, Staff Reporter, Bangla Tribune
Jonak Hijra has complained that Hijras are not being employed even after having qualifications. He claims that no hijra has yet been able to join any government service after getting recognition of third gender. So the Hijras demanded to have changes in government recruitment procedure.
It is known that Faridul Islam alias Jonak Hijra obtained post-graduation degree in social welfare. Despite his academic qualification and sincere efforts, he could not manage any government jobs. Being helpless he now works with a non-government organization. To come up to this stage he has to gone through many trials and tribulations.
Jonak said regarding his transformation that, ” he noticed the changes when he was a student of higher secondary.
After talking to him it is known that he now lives with two other hijras at a rented house in Badda, Newbazar area of the capital.
Jonak was the youngest among his six brothers. His father worked as a police official and mother was a housewife. His others five brothers also established in their profession.
At a very young age Jonak started his school as a boy. His name was Faridul Alam. He lived with his family in Mymensingh Sadar. Seeing the changes inside him, he tried to move like girls at his higher secondary. However, his classmates, teachers and families were strongly opposed it. He studied at Ananda Mohan College, Mymensingh.
“When I was studying honours and master courses I was more harassed. I often became victim of sexual harassment or sometimes emotional harassment. Even my teachers also harassed me. None of my classmate could accept me for this identity.”-said Jonak Hijra.
Jonak further added, ‘I completed my Master in 2014. After that, all of my brothers wanted me to get a job as a male. They also took me to a lot of places introducing me as a man. But I know who I am? I did not want to live like that.”
“Things are not in my control even after my wishes. I cannot change my sitting style as I cannot sit like a man. Even my voice is not as same as man. Then how can I live like a man? How long I can continue it? I tried hard to adjust for the sake of my family but I could not,” he expressed his helplessness.
At the end of his Master’s degree, Jonak tried to live independently by getting separated from his family as there were a lot of problems in the family regarding him. Many of his family members thought that the marriage proposals of other family members will be broken up because of him. The people of his area believe that, if any kinship is done with any hijra’s family there are chances that future generation can be borne as hijra. So no one wanted to get their daughters married to Jonak’s family. That is why being triumphant with sadness I left my family in a silent way.
Now all of his brothers live in abroad. Only his mother, and widow of his brother and their children live in their house. He often visits his elderly mother in holidays and look after her. He tries to cooperate his mother by giving some money every month. But he cannot meet his mother at daylight. When the darkness falls he meets his mother to avoid his neighbours’ eye.
He said, “I visit at night as I do not want to let my neighbor know my family has communications with me. If they know about it they will create problems.”
The story of his struggle is very long. Even after that he wanted to survive as a hijra. He said, “After completing my master’s degree, I felt embarrassed to take pocket money from my brothers. How long I could take? I was searching for jobs but I could not manage. Then I started to take tuition addressing myself as a boy. But after teaching a student for two or three days, the families rejected me.”
An organization named ‘Bondhu’ works for hijras across the country. When the Executive Director of the organization, Saleh Ahmed proposed to me to work for them I happily joined and started to work. Currently Jonak works for Bondhu organization.
While talking about recognition Jonak said, “We have only received a gazette, nothing else. Still there is nothing as third gender in any government documents. We have not received any benefit for this. It needs radical change.”
At present, no job opportunities have been created for hijras at both public and private institutions. However, the hijaras demanded the opportunity to sit for qualifying test according to their merit. They also demanded that if they can meet up the qualifications only then they will be hired for jobs.
In this regard, Jonak said, “We have got recognition as third gender, but the rights are still not ensured. After the recognition of the Hijras there should be amendment in policies at offices, but it has not been done yet.”
Jonak says “If I get the privilege to talk with the Prime Minister, then I will ask her a question, and that is: what kind of recognition have we received?”