Transgender India is in receipt of this article by a guest blogger and her experience.
Laws are not made in isolation but in a socio-economic setting. Mugging up high sounding fundamentals from the academic discourse, some people seem to forget the evidence right in front of their eyes. People are screaming about my privileges. What you fail to see is the position of power of the hijra Jamath gurus vis-a-vis the runaway transgender children. The law is to protect the weak. And this provision in the transgender bill is to protect the weak transgender children.
If these people are adopting children for the love of them, they will be sending them to school or imparting employable skills. What kind of parenting is it where the so called foster parents keep their life and soul together but push their children into a life of misery? I am sure all of you have heard of that case in Orissa, where a Hijra jamath guru cuts off the breast of a trans girl and then burns her for running away. The cops did nothing. It is pure and simple bonded labor. Ages ago this is what white american slave masters did to their black slave women who tried to run away. Exploitation of transgender people by others supposedly transgender People.
I wonder how “invested” some activists have become in the hijra jamath system. I wonder what it takes for people to pawn away their conscience like this.
I hereby debate a few Arguments of Pro Hijra Jamath activists
Argument No 1 : The extent of such human rights violations is comparable to, if not significantly less than, what is committed by Indian parents and government shelters.
- Unproven. Just because living conditions in Govt Shelters are bad, are u suggesting to make jamath systems for Non Hijra cis kids too, who do not have a home to stay ?. On the contrary, I feel we should progressively work towards making living conditions of Govt shelters better for every kid (cisgender & transgender) and also educate the workers there on gender & sexual diversity of nature. Rather than prophasizing for legalizing Jamath System which has no regulatory and monitoring mechanism by the government or child protection authorities of the country.
- If a cisgender kid (under 18) is taken away from the family, without a competent courts orders, Its considered a kidnap. Why should it be considered anyway different for Transgender Children. Why should transgender children in india be discriminated by the law ?
- Here I am not even touching on the part where unethical and inhumane Hormonal abuse that is done on these children (Below the age of consent) to look bigger and sellable as fast as possible.
- Unlikely for Indian Parents. I am not saying Parents do not abuse. But the way parents look at an offspring is different from hijra jamath gurus procuring a slave for economic reasons.
- How is “forced begging” better? Why should there be no third option? And why should the Jamath be given an open license to violate the child?
Argument No 2 : Arresting Hijra people does not in any way address the root cause of the issue.
- The Transgender bill nowhere proposes to arrest a law abiding hijra person. The bill just says you cannot force/groom children to beg or for prostitution. This is precisely a straw man argument. Objection to this provision makes me wonder if this is a proof that a lot of Hijra jamath Gurus are forcing / grooming transgender children right now into Prostitution and Begging.
- Objection to the section on bonded labour is just proof that a lot of trans girls want to run away from their Guru but are scared to shit.
- Whom should the drafter of a bill protect? The economic interest of a few criminals or the lives of millions of young children?
Argument No 3 : A qoute from a Hijra Person “To me my parent’s home and my (Jamat) Guru’s home are both prisons. In my parents home I have the freedom to do anything and everything except express my gender identity. With my Guru, I could be comfortable about my gender, but there are other types of restrictions which made it difficult for me go for higher studies or pursue my ambitions”
- What price is she paying for that? Should we let other children follow suit into becoming criminals or should we re-imagine a future where these children grow up to be productive members of society?
Fourth, Fifth or a Hundredth, the Jamath system is not an option at all. It is an archaic remnant of the inhuman ways in which transgender people have been treated. Any kind of support to it will just perpetuate the problem. Hijra Jamath system not part of the Solution. Period.
It is more or less like Manual Scavenging. The relevant laws were not trying to target the depressed classes who engages in this occupation. The law targeted the practice. The same is true here. The law is not targeting Hijra People . It is targeting the practice of forcing children into prostitution and begging within the jamath system. And this, no sane man who does not have vested interest will object.
It is a lame ass excuse that there are no other occupations open to them other than being a bonded labourer to the jamath. There are many Hijra People I have met who preferred to make an honest living. In a Orthodox Muslim family and society, it is the woman who force purdah and other cruelty on fellow women, much more than the man. Why? The older women have been co-opted into the oppressive system. They have become invested in the patriarchy. The same thing is happening here. The hijra jamath gurus are as much a part of Indian Society’s oppression of transgender people as much as the cisgender folks.
Laws do not change people’s attitude, my dear well meaning-ed ignoramus. Think Bigger. Do not make compromises with Criminals.
In the tribal areas of the North Eastern India, you will not find a single hijra person. The Hijra Jamath is non existent here. It is not like we do not have transgender people. And it is not like some form of discrimination do not exist. We run away from homes too. We get beaten up and killed at times as well. But the transgender People of north east India are much more empowered and living a way ahead dignified life for themselves than elsewhere in the country. I attribute this huge difference to the lack of Jamath system here.
This is not so much an transgender problem as it is an Indian Mentality Problem.