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Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh opens first madrasa for third gender community

People behind this initiative believe this madrasa will pave the way for the transgender community to be included in mainstream education system in near future

Update : 06 Nov 2020, 07:01 PM

In a historic move, a madrasa — a school for religious instruction and education in the Muslim world — has been established in Bangladesh that is solely dedicated for the third gender in the country.

Named Dawatul Quran Third Gender Madrasa, the institute has been built in the Lohar Bridge area of Kamrangirchar, Dhaka.

Over 150 hijras or third gender people from Badda, Jatrabari, Sylhety Bazar and Kamrangirchar areas of Dhaka will get admitted to the Qawmi madrasa.

They were previously studying separately in those areas but now they will be tutored together at the newly-established madrasa, said Md Abdul Aziz Hussaini, the institute’s education and training secretary.

Dawatul Quran Third Gender Madrasa is presumed to be the first madrasa that is dedicated for the people of the third gender since no report has been found of a similar institution in the country so far.

The madrasa has been set up in a three-storey building and each floor has 1,200 square feet of space, said Hussaini.

The madrasa has been established by the Late Ahmed Ferdaus Bari Chowdhury Foundation. The accommodation and the study arrangements will also be managed by the same foundation, he added.

“People of the hijra community are neglected by their families and the society. This madrasa has been established with the aim of bringing them back to a normal life by providing them with moral education through the teachings of the Holy Quran,” said Hussaini.

Ten teachers have been appointed to teach the students, informed Md Abdur Rahman Azad, the secretary general of the institute.

The organization that is funding the madrasa is named after the late Ahmed Ferdaus Bari Chowdhury, a freedom fighter from Chittagong’s Mirsharai upazila, he said.

“I thought it was my social responsibility to do something for the hijra community as they are neglected everywhere. As soon as the idea came to my mind, I approached the foundation and it was approved,” he added.

He continued: “The foundation was established around three years ago and is financed by the three sons of the late freedom fighter — Colonel Rehanul Bari Chowdhury, Rakibul Bari Chowdhury and Ehsanul Bari Chowdhury.”

“There is no age restriction here. Anyone from the hijra community can get admitted here regardless of their age,” Azad mentioned.

A better future for the community

The madrasa was inaugurated on Friday.

Presiding over the inauguration program as the chief guest, Abida Sultana Mitu, the president of the Bangladesh Hijra Kalyan Foundation, said: “People belonging to the hijra community want to learn. They have proved again and again that if we create an opportunity for them now, they will help create a better tomorrow.”

“Most people of the community are deprived of education; education will make them more conscious. Establishing a madrasa for them is just the beginning. They can now engage in moral-religious education instead of harassing people,” Mitu, a hijra community leader, said.

Mitu hoped that the students of the madrasa would be provided with technical education along with religious knowledge to make the community further enriched.

Officially, there are 10,000 hijras in Bangladesh, according to a survey of the Department of Social Services.

However, several private organizations, that are working to protect the rights of the hijra community, estimated that there could be more than 50,000 hijras in the country.

Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) recently announced that the members of the hijra community will be included as a gender separate from male and female in the upcoming National Census of January 2021.

People of the hijra community are usually neglected at educational institutes and by the society as a whole.

Either they are kicked out of their houses forcibly or they isolate themselves after people come to know about their gender during their childhood. Mainstream education is out of their reach mainly due to these reasons.

However, people behind this initiative believe that this madrasa will pave the way for the hijra community to be included in the mainstream education system in the near future.

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