By Sabya van Elswijk,
Today we were invited by Katha to come to the place where she usually gives dance classes to other hijra. She invited 10 hijra to come today and be part of the portraits we are making on hijra in Bangladesh, as a part of the Dhaka project and Dragqueens of the World. We arrived on the top floor of a building in the centre of Dhaka, which is waiting to be renovated, to provide a place where hijra can come and educate themselves and each other.
Ten hijra are there, beautiful in clothing and make-up, all with a natural female look and energy. We also get introduced to five people working with government and Ngo’s who support the hijra community. We only have 3 hours for this shoot, and want to return later. To hang out with all of them, to talk more about their backgrounds and lives. Samsul and Emran are here, talking to all of them, asking about themselves. Meanwhile Martijn starts the photoshoot in daylight, which is good, because there is no electricity in the building yet. I am taken by the NGO people to see the whole floor and talk about their goals and support for the hijra. Some of the hijra are playing soccer with Sét.
Looking at the group of hijra, they look like they are visiting a family party. Some younger ones are gossiping together, posing for each others mobiles. Elder hijras are gathered in the corner chairs, drinking tea. The officials are sitting and talking together. The diversity between the look and character of the hijra is enormous, as it is between women walking on the street. After doing their photoshoot with Martijn, and talking to Samsul and Emran about themselves, they come to me to do their private photoshoot with me, the foreign woman. They want portraits together as we are friends, very close and hugging. They probably don’t realize how special it is for us to meet them.
In two week we will be back here to spend more time and make group photos.
Show Yourself is a special exhibition showcasing the works of three artists from three different continents. While it is easy to limit an artist’s perspective through the lens of his/her own cultural identity, each of our three displayed artists represent and champion global experiences and perspectives. Their artworks have been shaped by their perpetual […] Continue reading →
By Sabya van Elswijk, After our meeting with Boys of Bangladesh, we understand more about being gay in Bangladesh, and it is also clear you will not find people who call themselves ‘dragqueen’ openly here. We do want to work on this subject, and are looking for contacts in the Hijra community in Dhaka. Hijra’s […] Continue reading →
By Sabya van Elswijk, We are invited to meet with the director of Boys of Bangladesh, a network of gay people in Dhaka. Arriving at his place, human rights activist Tanvir Alim welcomes us and explains that they use apartments as informal meeting places. There are many volunteers; all of them spend time on Boys of […] Continue reading →
Definitions By Sabya van Elswijk, Being in Dhaka, we find our definitions of the world constantly challenged. Working with homeless: these should be people without a house, without a place to sleep. But what if they live under a plastic roof? Are they promoted to the definition of being just poor, not homeless? Working […] Continue reading →
Martijn Crowe gave on July, 13th a lecture about ”the concept of the truth admitting that we love to lie, we can live in peace with each other, not taking ourselves too serious, teasing each other with the strong believes we might have and in fact are illusions. Admitting that we love to lie and […] Continue reading →
Hijra is a community of emasculated people originally from Indian culture. They are consider as a third gender: not a man nor a woman. The Bangladeshi government gave officially a status in 2014 to the approximately 10.000 of them. You can read more in this article from worldpolicy.com Continue reading →