The protocols of social distancing rules, widely emphasized in public health discourses globally to contain the spread of the coronavirus, are part of the everyday living experience of hijras who are socially seen as a source of pollution, defilement, and contagion, and are therefore kept at bay by the mainstream society. Hijras, the so-called third gender in South Asia, are one of the worst hit communities in the wake of the lockdown imposed by the government of Bangladesh to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While in the past people believed hijras to have special power to bless and curse the mainstream, with modernization and globalization, such beliefs about hijra magical power and abilities have progressively disappeared from Bangladeshi society. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has not only thrown into sharp relief the fact that hijras are one of the hardest hit groups but also reinforced the pre-existing social prejudice toward hijras.


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Hossain, A. 2021, 'Metaphor of contagion: the impact of COVID-19 on the hijras in Bangladesh', COVID-19 Assemblages. https://eprints.gla.ac.uk/307803/

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Last updated: 10 October 2023
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