Despite legal protections, transgenders living in misery, facing mockery in Kashmir
Srinagar: In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court of India on April 14, 2014, in a case titled Legal Services Authority Vs Union of India & Others directed that transgenders be treated as “third gender” to safeguard their constitutional and social rights, but in Kashmir the community is still discriminated against and marginalised.
In the winter of 2015, a transgender named ‘Mama’ who lived in Dalgate Srinagar was refused burial in the local graveyard after he died on the street. His Kangri (fire pot) burnt his body and it was feasted upon by stray dogs.
In November, 2018 an elderly transgender named Ghulam Nabi of Bandipora, after being abandoned, was forced to sleep on a freezing cold road for 20 days before being helped out “reluctantly” by people.
Apart from being disowned by their families, the society at large has disowned them, too. From keeping them away from basic education to denial of medical help, the transgender community of Kashmir is facing all sorts of hardships.
Shabir Ahmed alias Sweety is a transgender who was born to a well-off family. Not long ago, Sweety while in school was bullied for her personality. She was derided as Laanch by her classmates. The teachers used to laugh silently at her humiliation, she says.
“That silent laughter and the remarks of the classmates were not just killing me emotionally, they were telling me that I don’t belong with them. My schooling ended in 2002 and I never touched books again,” Sweety says.
“I was ridiculed by my family and relatives for leaving my studies but it was hard for me to tell them what I was going through. I couldn’t tell them that I was bullied for something which I myself did not know about. I only knew that I was born with a different orientation and I was not one of them,” she told Kashmir Reader.
Despite coming from a decent background – Sweety’s father was a government servant – but after her father’s death in 2005, Sweety was pushed into more isolation. Her mother and sister were the only people she could call her own after her father’s death.
“That period was the most tragic of my life. Finally in 2008, to earn some money for my family, I began doing menial labour. But there, too, I faced discrimination and humiliation. Ultimately I had to choose what every transgender person in Kashmir does – singing at weddings and match-making,” she said.
“It was hard for me to do that, but I had to, for this is what I was – a transgender. I accepted that this was my place in society. In the past 10 years, I have seen how young boys on roads and streets make fun of us and burst into laughter when they see us walking or talking. I have seen how much respect is given to us when we make a match for normal people and how much we are humiliated when we try to be among them. This is the story of a transgender – mocked when born and mocked when dead, people laughing and saying, Laanch ha moadd (the transgender has died),” Sweety said.
Aijaz Ahmed Bund, a social activist and author of the book, ‘Hijras of Kashmir’, said, “Transgenders are living a disadvantaged life everywhere. However, in the rest of India, they are not living an invisible life; they are well organised and their communities act as a support system. In Kashmir, they are not organised and there is no community support system. This adds to their miseries.”
Bund in 2017 filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) before the High Court’s Srinagar bench on the plight of transgenders in Kashmir. His PIL called for implementation of the Supreme Court’s judgement which directed for providing them every facility that the other two genders enjoy under the Constitution. The High Court passed important directions on the PIL but the state government has done little to comply with the court’s directions.
In a recent order dated June 3, the High Court noted that the directions passed by the Supreme Court more than five years ago were yet to be complied with by the J&K Government.
Source : Kashmir Reader