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December 12, 2017

Police and Transgenders: An encounter of the bizarre kind


Anusha Narain

Bhopal’s Pride Parade (Photo by Snehdip Biswas)

Bhopal: Who will protect you from the protectors? This rhetorical question holds real implications for the members of transgender community for whom safety concerns are massive and recourse from the police is also suspect.

This issue surfaced during a conversation with a cross-section of transgenders who were attending the first Pride Parade in the state capital from 13 to 17 May 2017. Talks, screenings, and street plays were the highlights of this event.

Harassment of all kinds is an everyday reality for most transgendered persons. From catcalls to rape, they face the entire gamut of sex crimes. After enduring repeated threats and attacks when they turn to the authorities for help; their appeals are rudely brushed aside. The rudest shock comes when they are subjected to lewd remarks and sexual solicitation by the police.

“According to the police, it’s not possible to violate the modesty of a trans person. If someone harasses us on the streets, they side with the offender and justify their remarks. If someone abuses us sexually, they say you are a sex worker, so there is no abuse. They treat us worse than they treat women. For them, we are objects that must be undermined,” said one trans person.

“Police apathy only emboldens the perpetrators; this compounds our troubles so we refrain from approaching them altogether,” said another.

Pride Parade in Bhopal (Photo by Snehdip Biswas)

So what do these transgendered people do when things get really dangerous? “That’s when it is helpful to be a part of the community. Fellow kinnars (transgenders) rally for our protection. We have each other’s back.”

The system fails to uphold their rights or ensure their dignity but yet they hope, “If the government makes provisions, we will educate ourselves which will lead to increased employment opportunities. Hopefully, then we will get too busy building our lives and police intervention will become redundant”.

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