Indian Supreme Court hears petition to end legal ‘loophole’ over sexual violence against trans people
The Supreme Court of India has heard a petition seeking changes in the criminal law of the country to protect transgender people from sexual violence.
The petition filed by advocate Reepak Kansal noted that the current wording of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) protects “men and women” from sexual assault, but not people who identify as transgender, which is categorised as a third gender on many official forms.
Specifically, the petition said this means that Section 354 of the IPC – dealing with the offence of sexual assault – does not extend to transgender victims.
“The Indian laws are for men and women and therefore, considering transgender neither men nor women, they generally could not get justice from the authorities due to lack of law/Act [sic],” said the petitioners.
Chief Justice of India S A Bobde said the petitioners made a “good case”, and that it was one which needed hearing.
The court issued a notice to the Narendra Modi-led central government, ordering it to respond. The petition includes a request to the government to “make appropriate modifications [to the law]… to include transgender/transsexuals/kinnar (a Hindi term for trans people) and eunuchs”.
In a 43-page submission to the court, seen by The Independent, the petitioners note that one in two transgender people have been sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives.
Arguing that India has “discriminatory laws that contravene international human rights law,” the petition says that transgender people are “systematically denied” the right to equality and equal protection of the law.
India’s Supreme Court first recognised trans people as a third gender in a landmark 2014 ruling, which also required they be included in special reservations for jobs and education placements, in line with other minorities. Estimates for the number of transgender people in India range from around 500,000 to two million.
Courtesy : Independent