Wanted: Male or Female – Transgender People In Nepal Suffer Hiring Bias, Despite Law

Kathmandu, Nepal – Shila Singh Thakuri loved her job as a dancer, performing both traditional and modern routines in this city’s nightlife district. But she endured abuse and humiliation from her coworkers because she is transgender, she says, so she quit.

That was almost a year ago, and she still can’t find what she’d consider to be a good job. Instead, she works in the commercial sex trade. Thakuri, 21, earns good money ? between 40,000 and 50,000 Nepalese rupees ($370 and $463) per month. That income would be unimaginable in any other field, she says.

The per capita income in Nepal is about $1,160, according to a 2014 U.N. report.

But every day comes with the risk of being harassed by police and others.

“One day I also want to have a good job,” she says. “I want to say proudly that I am doing that job. Who wants to identify themselves as a sex worker?”

Rita Luitel, a transgender man, earned a master’s degree but hasn’t been able to find a job in his field of study.

Kalpana Khanal, GPJ Nepal

The Blue Diamond Societyis one of the few organizations that provide income-earning opportunities to transgender people in Nepal, Shah says. The organization currently has a staff of around 800 people in more than 30 districts of the country who are providing services to the LGBT community and carrying out awareness and advocacy work.

Many of the transgender men and women looking for employment in Kathmandu have completed their basic education and have taken the appropriate tests for ongoing education.

Rita Shrestha, 27, a transgender woman now living in Kathmandu, has a bachelor of arts in population studies from the Padma Kanya Multiple Campus in Kathmandu.

After many failed job applications and interviews, Shrestha says, she felt she had no choice other than to work in the sex trade. She earns between 30,000 and 40,000 rupees ($277 and $370) a month, which enables her to survive in Kathmandu, she says.

“People in the restaurant used to scold and sometimes beat me, saying that I behave like a man despite being a woman,” Luitel says. “I worked for two years in the restaurant even after tolerating all those tantrums and tortures, as I wanted to complete my master’s [degree].”

But now he regrets the sacrifices he made, because, due to being transgender, he hasn’t found a job that puts his degree to use. He earns about 12,000 rupees ($111) per month digging sewage lines.

“I didn’t need to complete a master’s degree to do this job,” he says. “I studied with much hardship, thinking that I would get a better job in a better place.”

One advocacy organization, Inclusive Forum Nepal, has trained 19 transgender people in tailoring and driving, and also offers special courses for transgender people who want to seek foreign employment. But those efforts aren’t enough, says Badri Pun, president of the organization. The law needs to protect transgender people so they can have a real shot at good jobs and other opportunities, including bank loans, he says.

“Money is needed to do anything, and there is nowhere we can go for loans,” he says. “It’s the same with training also.”

Shivaraj Sedhai, information officer at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, agrees that national-level changes are needed to accommodate transgender people, but he notes that training opportunities are already available to anyone who qualifies. It doesn’t exclude third-gender people, he says.

Luitel thinks the government should create a quota for qualified transgender people in government jobs.
Laxmi Bilash Koirala, spokesperson for the Public Service Commission, says the commission, which hires for government jobs, is aware of the shortcoming in its recruitment process, including the vacancy notices that specify whether a job is available for a man or a woman.

Editor’s Note: Bhumika Shrestha and Rita Shrestha are not related.
Sagar Ghimire, GPJ, translated this article from Nepali.
by Kalpana Khanal
Source – The Malaysia Sun