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Protect trans prisoners, activists in India urge

Protect trans prisoners, activists in India urge

Hijras in India

Trans activists in India this week pushed for prisons to treat trans prisoners humanely.

They called on prisons to implement standard operating procedures to deal with transgender inmates.

They also urged authorities to respect a 2014 Supreme Court ruling intended to guarantee their rights.

It comes after officers in Telangana state mistreated a prisoner who identified as a transman, according to the New Indian Express.

As is often the case in India, authorities tried to place the prisoner based on genitalia after a medical examination.

This goes against the Supreme Court ruling in 2014, activists argue.

Chief justices said ‘self-identification’ is the only way a trans person’s identity must be determined.

Current practices also put prisoners at risk. ‘At present when someone is forced into a prison with cisgender prisoners, that can lead to bodily harm’ said rights activist Chandramukhi Muvvala, according to the New Indian Express.

Muvvala said activists often have to pressure authorities to assign trans prisoners to a jail where they will be safe. ‘It is a tedious process’, Muvvala, who ran for local elections last year, said.

The fact that rape and sexual abuse laws only apply to cisgender females puts trans prisoners at even greater risk.

Currently, only one state, Kerala, has a clear policy for trans prisoners and assigns them their own separate housing.

Fight for rights

While a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2014 recognized transgender as a third gender, the community remains marginalized.

In fact, the Upper House of the Indian Parliament on Tuesday (8 December) was debating a transgender rights bill.

Trans Indians and their allies have been urgently rallying against the bill.

They want a parliamentary committee to review the law.

India’s lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill last month. It was supposed to protect their rights.

But, the transgender community has slammed it. They claim it infringes their rights rather than protecting them.
Activists organized large-scale protests in Indian cities over the weekend.

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