To recognize and protect the human rights of the gender diverse population, particularly Hijra community, Bandhu Social Welfare Society (Bandhu) organized “Lawyer’s Fellowship Award Giving Ceremony 2019” at the Daily Star Centre on 02 December 2020. The fellowship was awarded to ten lawyers who actively promoted and protected the rights of the gender diverse communities through legal assistance and service, counselling, support, sensitization program and other initiatives.

Shale Ahmed, Executive Director of Bandhu, inaugurated the ceremony. Keeping the second goal of Bandhu’s 4th Strategic Plan at the center of the discussion, Mr. Ahmed informed that the organization has been working for the gender diverse communities for more than two decades to create a space where human rights are protected in order to have a minimum acceptable quality of life with dignity and respect like any other human beings.

“We are offering this fellowship to the lawyers in order to ensure the legal support to the Hijra communities. We have also encountered with some knowledge gaps while working for this community. It is our responsibility to identify their needs, and then, coordinate with the other stakeholders to connect them with the local communities.”, Ahmed said.

The Chief Guest of the event, Md. Saiful Islam, Sr. District Judge and Director of National Legal Aid Service Organization (NLASO), commended Bandhu for providing the fellowship program and expected the continuation of the effort.

“We should step forward to improve the lives of this gender diverse group. The government has already recognized the status of the third gender community in 2013. As there is no fixed definition of this marginalized group, the members of this community are being deprived of all the opportunities. National Legal Aid Service Organization (NLASO) has already initiated a helpline for the community in order to assist them with legal counselling.”, he added.

Anisul Islam Hero, Chairperson of Bandhu, addressed the importance of creating a gender-balanced society. “The parliament should pass a bill to ensure the fundamental rights of the Hijra community”, he added.

Md. Tanvir Islam, Assistant Manager of Bandhu Social Welfare Society, highlighted the achievements of the awardees through his presentation. The entire event was moderated by Md. Moshiur Rahman, Policy & Advocacy Manager of Bandhu.

The awardees of the ceremony are- Adv. Zenefar Benjir of Narayanganj, Adv. Mohammad Ahmas Mia of Cox’s Bazar, Adv. Mohammad Zia Uddin of Tangail, Adv. Afroza Sultana Anta of Kustia, Adv. Popy Banarjee of Khulna, Adv. Md. Anisur Rahman of Joypurhat, Adv. Aziza Tamanna Swarna of Pabna, Adv. Md. Rafikul Islam Jhantu of Barishal, Adv. Md. Tahmid Akash of Jashore, and Adv. Salena Ahmed of Dhaka.

The event ended with the expectation of continuing the Lawyer’s fellowship program and having a yearly get-together of Bandhu Panel Lawyers and community people all over the country to uphold the human rights of the Hijra community.

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