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Thursday, November 13, 2008

India's Eunuchs

In India, sex education is soon going to be a part of curriculum in schools. However, the sexual minorities especially the eunuchs, transsexuals, or hijra are still a struggling a lot. The hijras in India find it hard to get a good education. Employment opportunities are very rare. Most public and private companies use several excuses to deny employment.Considering themselves neither men nor women, members of this so-called ‘third sex’ generally adopt feminine names and dress and are traditionally referred to as ‘she.’ Faced with lives of isolation, poverty and public ridicule, hijras often resort to prostitution for economic survival. An absurd question perhaps, but ones that need to be asked in the face of so little reasoning behind a country's refusal to accept them.Such people never gain the affection or support of their families, a desire that for many will remain just another dream for them. Suffering from a sexual identity crisis and physical deformities, they could not talk to anyone in her family and was labeled a ‘sinner’ for behaving like a girl.As outcasts who have suffered the ultimate rejection at the hands of their families. The systematic violence that hijras face is reinforced by institutions such as the family, media and the medical establishment, and is given legitimacy by the legal system. The violence that the hijra community faces from the police can be traced to the 1897 amendment to the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, which was subtitled ‘An Act for the Registration of Criminal Tribes and Eunuchs’. Under this law, the local government was required to keep a register of the names and residences of all eunuchs who were ‘reasonably suspected of kidnapping or castrating children or committing offences under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code’. The law also decreed eunuchs as incapable of acting as a guardian, making a gift, drawing up a will or adopting a child. The hijra community is deprived of several rights under civil law because Indian law recognises only two sexes. This means that hijras do not have the right to vote, marry and own a ration card or a driving license, or claim employment and health benefits. Educating the eunuchs and accommodating them in the mainstream society is the only solution to end the numerous troubles faced by them. Most of them can be pulled out of prostitution by providing employment. The Indian society should come forward to accommodate these people with the mainstream society.


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