The following is a testimony from the report titled “A REPORT ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST TRANSGENDERS IN KARNATAKA, 2014” that was released by Onedede and compiled by Prerana Kodur & Gowthaman Ranganathan. Ondede, meaning convergence in Kannada, is a collective that recognizes and endeavours to link existing movements such as child rights, women’s’ rights, sexual minority rights and other vulnerable sections through dialogue, research and action on Dignity-Voice-Sexuality.
Over the next couple of days, Gaylaxy will be sharing some of the testimonies that have been collected in the report. This is the first of this four-part series.
On November 26th, 2014, just two days after Bengaluru Pride saw a massive participation of 2000 people, more than 47 members of the Transgender community were picked up from various places across the city of Bangalore and were illegally detained at the Beggars’ Home. Harshini, a transgender woman, was picked up by police from a signal while begging. She narrates the harrowing experience that she had to go through, and the humiliation she and others faced.
On November 24th, around 11:30 a.m., I got out for my work, i.e. begging. I was at the signal and that’s when the constable signaled me and asked me to come near the car. He asked me to come to the station with him. He told me the Police wanted to talk to me. I asked why they wanted to talk only to me though they were so many people around. The police kept asking me to sit in the Police van. I told him, “I am not coming to the station. Why should I come? I am only begging and that is not wrong. We only do begging and sex work. And without these two, how do we eat and live? How do we support ourselves and our families?”
I also asked him if he wanted to have sex with me. He told me he did not want to have sex with me, and told me that ‘bade sahab’ wanted to meet us. I didn’t want to go to the station without informing my mother and sisters. I did not call them from my phone, and I didn’t have any balance. So I called from the police’s phone. My mother and my sister were at home. The police called and informed them that I was with them and he called them to come. Until they came, I was surrounded by policemen as though I had committed something wrong. When my mother and sisters arrived, they asked all of us to sit in their van. We didn’t want to sit in the van, so we caught two autos and followed the police van. We were taken to the Parappana Agarahara Police Station.
When we reached the station, we were asked to sign on the paper. We refused to sign until any of our older people came. But the police got angry and abused us. We were not allowed to speak and 10 our Guru also asked us not to speak. We were made to sit in one corner for about two hours without even letting us drink water. We were so scared and tensed.
Finally after two hours, a lady inspector told us that they were taking us to the Beggars’ Colony. We all cried foul and asked why we were going there.
Then the lady inspector told us that a few community members had misbehaved and hence they had the orders from the higher authority to take them away to the Beggars’ Colony.
We did not understand why we were taken to Beggars’ Colony for the wrong done by someone else. We asked them to take those people who had done wrong to Beggars’ Colony and punish them and let us go. We refused to go. But the police forced us and put us in their vans and took us to Beggars’ Colony.
When we went there, they took our phones and money and also asked me to remove our clothes. While doing that, the police felt me up to see what I had. They touched my breasts and asked derogatory questions. I was so embarrassed and I couldn’t even speak anything because I was scared they will not let me go from there. They told us they were going to keep us there for a year if we created a scene.
I could not even object the police. They had huge sticks when they asked us to take off our clothes. I was also scared that they would hit me if I tried stopping them, so I did not stop them. I have never been more scared and embarrassed.
All the Transgenders were put into a room. Our stay there was horrible. Firstly, I had no heart to eat and secondly, though I was hungry, the food there was so disgusting; it didn’t go down my throat.
We got the same food what the beggars’ got. Only after the beggars ate, we got their leftovers. We had to wash the plates they ate from and eat. The food given was not sufficient and I would still be hungry.
The Officials at the Beggars’ Colony threatened us when we did not eat. They even told us not to speak to each other or they would beat us. So finally after two days, we were released. We were made into a group of five and asked to sign a paper. I did not know what was written in the paper, and nobody even read it out to us. I signed the paper and a group photo was taken.
While letting us go, the police threatened us to not beg and that they should not see us on the streets again.
I have a message for the Government, the Police and the society –
The Government keeps saying that they will give us, they will give us. What have they given the Hijras or the Transgenders? They only talk, but they do not give us anything. Everybody only talks. I do not respect them at all, I only curse them.
I also want to have a house of my own, or at least get a loan from the bank so I can build my own house. I want to get a mainstream job. We are forced to do sex work and begging only because we do not get a job. And now everybody tells me not to beg. How do I survive? I am not allowed to sit for an interview and I’m not allowed to beg. I have a family to support and I have to support myself. I am the only child for my parents. I have to send them money every month. So if I don’t beg, who will give me money?
If any Hijra does wrong, punish them. But do not treat us badly and punish all of us for the wrong done by a few. When somebody commits a murder, the entire society or their families are not punished. So why punish all of us? You cannot discriminate or punish us only because we are Hijras. Nobody is high or low. All the men, women and Transgenders should be treated equally, because we are also humans at the end of the day.
The complete report can be downloaded here.