With no employment opportunities, may trans women either get into begging or sex work. And, both these jobs pose a major risk of violence.

How to stop violence against transgender women Give us political representation says communityPTI
news Human Rights Friday, September 15, 2017 - 20:47

 

 

The brutal attack on a transgender woman in Hyderabad’s Banjara Hills recently has once again put the focus on the violence that trans women face in society. Twenty one-year-old Sravya* was attacked by a group of men whose advances she rejected, with one of them actually slitting her throat.

This is hardly the first such incident of violence against a trans person. In July, a 34-year-old trans woman was allegedly assaulted by ten army men, who tried to disrobe her. While the police initially refused to file an FIR, claiming that they couldn’t act since the incident happened in the army’s jurisdiction, they later filed a complaint after there was outrage on social media.

Last year, a trans woman, Tara, died from burn injuries right outside a police station in Chennai.

But despite the spate of vicious attacks on trans women, there is no definite strategy to tackle it. And if many trans women, especially those involved in begging and sex work, face the threat of violence on an everyday basis, trans men in India are neither recognised nor visible.

So what can be done to curb the violence and make our cities and towns better for the transgender community? Many things, say activists, but the one thing that we must focus on is political representation.

Bittu Karthik, a civil rights activist, says that the reason why trans women are attacked is the same reason why cis women are attacked. “But the instances are more, because they are easy targets. Intimidation and abuse are quite commonly exercised against them,” Bittu tells TNM.

“Knowing their vulnerability, knowing that they are powerless due to rejection from the society, the perpetrators continue harassing them and also steal their earnings," he adds.

What also emboldens these attackers to harass and assault them is the lack of proper legal procedure and also the prejudice against trans women, he points out.

Activists also say that incidents of violence against trans women in particular are not rare, but happen quite regularly. With no employment opportunities, many trans women either get into begging or sex work. And both these jobs pose a major risk of violence.

The only difference is, they’re not reported as often. The stigma associated with sex work and also due to the hatred this marginalized community faces, very few incidents get reported.

Bittu also says that many incidents don’t come to light, because in many instances, the victims are humiliated by the police when they approach them.

Observing the reasons for which they are don't report such incidents, Meera Nandan, a transgender rights activist says, "Already they feel marginalized. Adding to that, due to lack of knowledge about law and the rights provided to them, they don't feel empowered enough to approach any state body. And, history has shown that those who try to empower themselves or a community, get persecuted."

"In the recent incident of a young trans woman who was attacked, many hospitals also denied treatment, which is appalling," Bittu laments.

"Currently, no elected representative talks or gives any statement against our ordeals. If we  have a political representation, then we can bring an organic change. We are not given any benefit, which the other marginalized communities receive. Dalits persistent with struggle got a political representation, similarly, if we too have a representation, a change, gradually can be brought," Meera says.

Bittu agrees. "I don't see any social revolution, which would help trans people get wide-acceptance in the society," he says

The brutal attack on a transgender woman in Hyderabad’s Banjara Hills recently has once again put the focus on the violence that trans women face in society. Twenty one-year-old Sravya* was attacked by a group of men whose advances she rejected, with one of them actually slitting her throat.

This is hardly the first such incident of violence against a trans person. In July, a 34-year-old trans woman was allegedly assaulted by ten army men, who tried to disrobe her. While the police initially refused to file an FIR, claiming that they couldn’t act since the incident happened in the army’s jurisdiction, they later filed a complaint after there was outrage on social media.

Last year, a trans woman, Tara, died from burn injuries right outside a police station in Chennai.

But despite the spate of vicious attacks on trans women, there is no definite strategy to tackle it. And if many trans women, especially those involved in begging and sex work, face the threat of violence on an everyday basis, trans men in India are neither recognised nor visible.

So what can be done to curb the violence and make our cities and towns better for the transgender community? Many things, say activists, but the one thing that we must focus on is political representation.

Bittu Karthik, a civil rights activist, says that the reason why trans women are attacked is the same reason why cis women are attacked. “But the instances are more, because they are easy targets. Intimidation and abuse are quite commonly exercised against them,” Bittu tells TNM.

“Knowing their vulnerability, knowing that they are powerless due to rejection from the society, the perpetrators continue harassing them and also steal their earnings," he adds.

What also emboldens these attackers to harass and assault them is the lack of proper legal procedure and also the prejudice against trans women, he points out.

Activists also say that incidents of violence against trans women in particular are not rare, but happen quite regularly. With no employment opportunities, many trans women either get into begging or sex work. And both these jobs pose a major risk of violence.

The only difference is, they’re not reported as often. The stigma associated with sex work and also due to the hatred this marginalized community faces, very few incidents get reported.

Bittu also says that many incidents don’t come to light, because in many instances, the victims are humiliated by the police when they approach them.

Observing the reasons for which they are don't report such incidents, Meera Nandan, a transgender rights activist says, "Already they feel marginalized. Adding to that, due to lack of knowledge about law and the rights provided to them, they don't feel empowered enough to approach any state body. And, history has shown that those who try to empower themselves or a community, get persecuted."

"In the recent incident of a young trans woman who was attacked, many hospitals also denied treatment, which is appalling," Bittu laments.

"Currently, no elected representative talks or gives any statement against our ordeals. If we  have a political representation, then we can bring an organic change. We are not given any benefit, which the other marginalized communities receive. Dalits persistent with struggle got a political representation, similarly, if we too have a representation, a change, gradually can be brought," Meera says.

Bittu agrees. "I don't see any social revolution, which would help trans people get wide-acceptance in the society," he says

 

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