Bandhu Social Welfare Society

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Bandhu Social Welfare Society

Bangladesh
Project Stage:
Scaling
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Shale Ahmed is working for the establishment of health and human rights for Bangladesh's Kothi, transgender, and 'men who have sex with men' (MSM) communities. In a country where men with homosexual preferences and/or feminized behavior and dress are considered citizens by neither the public nor the state, Shale and his organization, the Bandhu Social Welfare Society, are providing medical care, advocacy and job training that these individuals can find nowhere else in Bangladesh. The Bandhu Social Welfare Society offers men and transgender individuals access to healthcare and peer counseling to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS among other illnesses. The Society also links individuals to lawyers and advocates while also offering opportunities for them to lobby as part of a community of peers to the government and the larger society. Established by Shale in 1996, the Society has worked with thousands of MSM and transgender individuals over the past 12 years.

About Project

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Shale is using advocacy, medical care, education, and job training to create a society in which MSM and transgender men are treated as equal citizens in Bangladesh. Shale works specifically with Bangladesh's sizable transgender Hijra, Kothi, and MSM population. Hijra in Bangladesh are much like the Hijra communities in India who identify as neither men nor woman, cross-dress publicly and privately, and often engage in same-sex relationships and/or ritual castration. MSM is usually a medical and academic acronym for "Men Who Have Sex with Men"; however, the term men in Bangladesh can be problematic within the context of different cultural definitions of man, manliness, and manhood. Thus, in Bangladesh MSM means "Males Who Have Sex with Males" and refers not only to these males but also to individuals who may identify as neither male nor female but as a third gender category. In Bangladesh, often low-income MSM are known as Kothi, which is a self-identifying label for those males who may feminize their behavior and prefer to assume a more feminized gender role in their sexual relationships. As Kothi and Hijra dress and mannerisms are often very public and distinctive, Bangladesh's Kothi individuals, Hijra, MSM, and larger transgender communities are severely marginalized politically, socially, and culturally. Shale Ahmed is working to not only provide the Kothi, transgender, and MSM communities with alternative economic livelihoods, health care, and legal support, but to also create a place in Bangladeshi culture and public policy for a third-gender identity. Working slowly and steadily, to obtain buy-in and cooperation from health care facilities, lawyers, and the public, Shale is changing the way Kothis, transgender, and MSM find their way from adolescence through middle-age in Bangladeshi society.