Suji is a trained nurse. However, for the past eight years, she has been struggling for sustenance with no means of a livelihood.

No dignity in life give me death instead Third gender nurse in Kerala appeals
news Human Rights Friday, May 18, 2018 - 09:18

Kerala is supposed to be one of the most progressive states in India – but for this nurse in the state, even sustenance is a far fetched dream. Suji, a 51-year-old from Thrissur, identifies herself as a third gender person. And unable to make a living for the past eight years, Suji has now written to the Thrissur collector seeking mercy killing. She says, she will choose death over an undignified life.

Right to Life – arguably one of the most fundamental and inalienable of human rights is allowed without question to all citizens of this country. At its core, it is the right to access the bare necessities of life, such as nutrition, clothing and shelter. It guarantees human dignity in living and allows one to express, freely, and interact with society.

Suji cited the violation of her right to life as her reason to seek permission for assisted suicide.

"Death is better than the poverty and starvation I am experiencing currently. I am fed up of starving. Please allow me to die with dignity, and decide the date and time of my mercy killing," she wrote in her letter to the collector.

Unanswered appeals for a job

A B.Sc nursing graduate from Calicut Government University, Suji, for the past eight years, has been living alone in her modest house in Edamuttam and running from pillar to post to secure a job and an income. However, her identity as a third gender person stood as a massive obstacle to her life ahead.

Speaking to TNM, Suji said that she had written three times to the district collector, citing her conditions and seeking help in securing a job.

But all three times, her letters went unanswered. On Monday, she wrote one more letter: This time, seeking death.

"The collector has to allow me this right. I have been unsuccessful in leading a dignified life. I have no job, no friends or family, no income and no way to afford even one meal a day. I am sick of starving and am convinced that there is no future for me. Therefore, I demand a death that is both legally allowed (unlike suicide). It is my fundamental right, guaranteed by the Supreme Court and it is the government's duty to execute it," she told TNM.

Suji's story  

A native of Thriprayar in Kerala, Suji grew up with her parents and three brothers in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Suji’s biggest support was her father. With his backing, she completed her schooling, and went on to do nursing in Calicut.

After graduating in 1989, Suji flew to Saudi Arabia to work at a hospital briefly. All went well for a few years, until an issue regarding her gender came up in the hospital. The authorities demanded that she undergo an examination to “prove” her sex. Not willing to put herself through this disrespectful ordeal, she returned home.

"Following my father's death in the same year, I moved out of my house as I faced discrimination from the rest of my family. With my savings, I built a tiny house at Edamuttom and decided to look for jobs," she said.

However, applying for a job at a hospital turned out to be a big challenge.

"I approached all the hospitals in Thrissur. Most of them turned me away stating there there was no vacancy. One hospital told me to my face that they have difficulty employing a third gender person," she told TNM.

Acute poverty and starvation made her give up her nursing dreams.

"I needed food to sustain myself. So I decided to look out for other jobs – anything that provided me with a steady income," she said.

She taught spoken English at a coaching centre close to her house and was sustaining herself with the meagre income she earned from it. This stint, too, was short lived and ever since, she has not found a job.

‘Need a job, not charity’

Following her letter to collector  Dr A Kowsigan on Monday, the Malayalam media picked up the issue. Several social workers and newspapers questioned why she was denied a job. Papers also reported that help came to Suji in the form of private parties.

Suji however clarified to TNM that job offers were yet to come her way.

"I was approached by the United Nurses Associations, a body that supports nurses. They told me that a cheque of Rs 25,000 has been dispatched to my house and will reach on Friday. However, I declined this financial aid,” she said.

“I need a job, not some charity money to survive,” Suji asserted.

“They said that they will try and find a job for me. I also heard that people have been visiting the collector about job opportunities for me. Nobody has directly approached me regarding the same," she added.

“My friends and family may have isolated me, but the government cannot get away with it. It is my fundamental right to die with dignity and I won't allow it to go unaddressed," she said.

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