1st to 31st August 2020 | 5th Edition
The year of 2020 is all about Covid-19 outbreak and how it is impacting and shaping people’s lives. The outbreak of Covid-19 has immensely affected millions of lives of people in Bangladesh from different angles and people from all intersection so the society. It is crucial to understand that the people from gender diverse population are one of the most hard-hit population by covid-19 and appropriate measures are yet to the taken to minimize the negative impact done due to covid. It is important to understand that, persons with diverse Gender Identities are constantly facing multifaceted obstacles in accessing and ensuring their day to day basic necessities. As a result, recently they have become one of the most vulnerable community which is giving rise to serious human rights violations including right to life and dignity, right to food. right to employment etc.
In recent months the Government has taken multiple initiatives in order to combat the spread of COVID 19 and declaring the countrywide lockdown from 26 March to 30 May 2020 was one of the key steps. Zone wise lockdown was another step to prevent widespread of Corona virus which is impacting the income generating activities of the Gender Diverse Population (GDP). Many community members have lost their job due to global economy crisis and struggling hard to survive! In order to assess the real scenario of community people during the lockdown, Bandhu already conducted a survey monkey on Covid-19, titled “Quick Survey for Community Response for Transgender and Hijra” in early pandemic situation. Based on the findings, we are doing evidence-based networking, lobbying for their appropriate treatment, food support at local level. Banhu also formed Working Group at Cox’s Bazar consisting 15 members of different tire including UN organizations, National Human Rights Commission, Civil Society Organizations, Local Elected Bodies, Media, Community People etc.
However, to overcome the difficult and challenging situation during COVID, BANDHU has taken multi-level steps including arrangement of relief, ensure mental health support to the victims, arrange awareness program, distribution of personal safety equipment, networking and producing & disseminating monthly updates to relevant stakeholders. So far, we have produced four COVID 19 updates from March 2020 and in this fifth edition we are going to share our achievements on following components:
- Distribution of relief: 990 individuals
- Relief ensured through Networking and Communication: 1315 individuals
- Mental Health Helpline Counseling: 225 persons
- Awareness Program: 189,572 listeners
- Safety and Security Services: 140 equipment distributed
- Fund Raising Program: Submitted proposal to UNFPA, Women Fund Aisa and UNHCR
- Doctor’s help line: 73
- Documentation and monitoring: event reports, compiled monthly report, photographs
Distribution of Relief: The Transgender and Hijra community has always been stigmatized and the current pandemic situation has interrupted their day-to-days earning thus putting their life into misery. Considering this situation, BANDHU has already taken initiatives to provide food support since March 2020 and so far, 4964 community participants received relief package from BANDHU.
In August, BANDHU distributed both cash and relief with the funding support of Christian Aid and ICCO Corporation and Kerk in actie. A total of 250 community people received 2000-taka cash support (per person) through individual bKash and 500 people received relief across the country under Christian Aid. In addition, BANDHU distributed relief support to 240 Hijra in Dhaka city on 29 August 2020 with the support of ICCO Corporation and Kerk in actie.
Networking and Communication for enabling support from Government, other Agencies and Individuals:
Over the years, BANDHU has developed a good rapport with local administration including DC office, Civil Surgeon’s office, Local Elected Agencies in different districts. We have also formed different pools to work as catalysts for the community at local level, i.e. media forum members, lawyers, Human Rights activists. However, to enable access to relief materials without facing any stigma and discrimination from the local administration, BANDHU engaged different pools and Community Based Organizations (CBO) at local level during COVID-19 situation.
In August 2020, 1255 community people received relief and 60 community people received 1500 each as cash support. So far, a total of 8155 community people received relief from external sources (data source: BANDHU database, March to August 2020).
The table below shows the Division wise distribution of relief by external sources:
Mental Health Helpline Counseling:
Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being which affects how we think, feel, and act. Mental health is important at every stage of life from childhood to adulthood. Considering the rate of suicidal tendency among the gender diverse community is higher compared to others due to social exclusion, stigmatization, discrimination, family and social exclusion, identity crisis, Gender Based Violence by members of the family, etc. (ref: BANDHU data source).
Realizing its importance, BANDHU introduced both online and offline mental health counselling services based on the needs and demands of the community. During COVID-19, we extended the services and introduced exclusive Help Line number (Porichoy: 01714 048418) where community people receive mental health support with full confidentiality throughout the lock down situation.
In August 225 calls were received and provided need-based services accordingly by the counsellors.
Raising awareness among the Gender Diverse community is a regular activity of BANDHU. Regular awareness related radio message is being broadcasted through the Public Service Announcement (PSA) community with the support of RGDP project. Besides, this regular activity, BANDHU has formed Digital Platform named Bandhu COVID-19 Platform to share recent updates on COVID-19 in social media. In addition, we have created WhatsApp group amongst all 36 CBOs where regular awareness session is conducting through professional doctor.
So far 19 information was shared in Digital Platform and total viewers were 700. In addition, 12 awareness sessions were conducted for CBO members where a total of 102 community participants including Rohingya generated knowledge on COVID 19. Through PSA, total 189,572 listeners reached out via Public Service Announcement (PSA) in August 2020 under RGDP project, USAID. In addition, a total of 65 Rohingya people participated awareness session in Teknaf under same project.
Bandhu developed a promo “Call for Joining Hand” focusing COVID updates of Bandhu and RGDP project under USAID and uploaded in the Bandhu Facebook page and Bandhu website.
Safety and Security services:
The increase of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and harassments against community is quite concerning. There is no specific study of GBV on TG community but Bandhu recorded data shows that the GBV is increasing amongst Transgender community day by day. Considering the importance, BANDHU keeps record of GBV monthly basis and in August 2020, we documented 17 GBV records. Ain Alap-a legal help line of BANDHU is providing all kinds of information to the community and ensuring need-based emergency support relating to their safety and security.
One guideline has been developed on staff movement during this pandemic situation by BANDHU management.
In August we have received 99 calls, out of which 50 community clients received legal services, 18 cases were documented and 8 cases were resolved through Mediation. Besides, 140 Personal Protection Equipment were distributed among the community under Rights for Gender Diverse Population (RGDP), USAID.
Fund Raising Program:
Despite all initiatives, significant numbers of community people are still starving (ref: Bandhu survey monkey) throughout COVID- 19 situation and are struggling hard to manage food and other basic amenities. To ensure further food and hygiene support to the community people following WHO guideline, we have taken a number of initiatives to mobilize fund. Proposal developed and submitted to UNFPA, Women Fund Asia, UNHCR.
Community people do not have adequate access to information related to their daily health complicacy during COVID-19 lockdown situation as most of the community people are staying at home following the instruction of the Government. For ensuring prompt health care support of community, BANDHU introduced Doctor’s Help line in May 2020 under USAID supported RGDP project (01744 755232, weekdays from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm) and community people are very much happy to receive this service from BANDHU. Community people now can discuss their problems with the community friendly doctor and getting the essential advices on treatment, health and nutritional, prevention and precaution, COVID-19 testing facilities.
In August 2020, a total of 73 calls received by doctor across the country where 28 calls were follow-up. The total suspected COVID 19 treatment was 20, referred for COVID test: 20, COVID positive:3, provided general treatment: 25, prescribed treatment: 25 and counselling on health, nutrition and prevention: 20.
Documentation and Monitoring
BANDHU preserved all kinds of reports, pictures, news link, expenditure related information for audit purpose. Besides, BANDHU has created a photo gallery where all COVID-19 related pictures and other documents are uploaded periodically.
In August 2020, 1 video documentary has been developed from RGDP project under USAID on the support of Bandhu to community people in this pandemic.
- Bandhu is trying to ensure at least single time relief for each person (either 7 days package/1-month package based on availability of fund) which is not sufficient for the community as they are currently jobless and struggling to survive. In addition, they need cash support besides relief to meet other daily basis need i.e. house rent, COVID test, medicine purchase cost etc. Though Bandhu arranged support for medicine support under ICCO corporation but this support is very limited considering the current need.
- Maintaining social distance and proper protection measures are really challenging for the community as most of them living in a small room with limited facilities and no other space to maintain home quarantine for suspected COVID-19.
- The existence of stigma and gender-based violence especially domestic violence is increasing gradually and become more visible when they stay at home with their family members and go out to receive relief from the local administration.
- The ratio of false negative case is increasing now a days; thus, make them helpless though they were suspected observing all signs and symptoms. They are not even able to do test for 2nd time from any private sectors due to quite high charge of COVID test.
- Many of the community people are effected due to recent flood and hampered their daily lives besides COVID challenges.
- The set up of COVID testing booth are not easily accessible for this group, as a result they may not feel interest to go the booth despite doctor’s recommendations/suggestion.