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Eunuchs And Their Position In The Indian Society

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By Chandeep Arora:

Encrusted in cheap rouge, clad in loose fitting sari and clapping their hands indistinctly, they roam about the street scaring people and earning money out of their fear. These are not average beggars on the lane. They speak loudly in strong male voices and tease the passersby some who will part some cash in front of them. They are the Eunuchs, the male castrated, who are looked down by the two “established” genders. Etymologically eunuch is derived from the Greek word eune and ekhein meaning “bed keeper”. Logically they are transgender. Practically they are considered as a “curse”.

Unlike today, eunuchs enjoyed a privileged position in the ancient India. They were considered to be the most trustworthy and provided protection to the women of the kingdom. They were frequently employed by the Indian imperial societies because of which most of the families converted one of their sons to a eunuch to get a steady source of income. They were even considered for taking crucial decisions on the behalf of the ruler. Today, India has about 1 million of eunuchs though their role in life has changed drastically from that of a loyal friend, confidant and associate. Today they have become “something” to be feared of. Nobody wants to get accosted by one of them, nudged or even touched. It’s of this “harassment” and “embarrassment” that they are earning money. Begging is not only the source of income to them; they visit households celebrating auspicious occasions like marriage,child birth and earn money by dancing and blessing the family members. The reason why people are so afraid of them is because they are considered to have occult powers and their curses are measured as potent. But today considering their pathetic position in the society they need the blessings for survival. Regarding civil law, eunuchs suffer here too. There is no separate law for them and thus cases of harassment against them are not looked upon. In India they do not get enough space in the surroundings, workplace and not even in the families. In this superstition led nation, they have become another fallacy for the people.

Albeit their situation in today’s social order, there are some of the odds that stand outside the crowd. Many of them have entered politics and playing an important role in the administration of the nation. When floods hit Gujarat, the eunuchs donated a huge amount of money for the relief fund and even helped in the aftermath of the disaster. A notable awareness has also been seen all over the world for the castrated. Around the world the countries are beginning to recognize their rights. Not so much in media focus, but there are some of the social bodies such as hijra kalyan sabha that are running alongside to improve their condition and spreading awareness. We as human beings have a great role to play in giving back their “deserved” rights. Love, compassion and sympathy have the power to bring revolution. Showing empathy towards them, their state of mind ,we may be able to adjust them in our social circle. Pathetic and feeble feelings would only invite grudges. There’s a need to formulate specific laws for the betterment and to strengthen the situation of eunuchs. Last but not the least, they themselves have to take up the charge and fight for their right to live, to exist. May be there’s still a little hope left for castrated in the world’s largest democracy INDIA.

Image: http://www.dailyglobal.com/2008/12/indias-hijras-spread-safe-sex-message-in-life-or-death-aids-fight/

You must be to comment.
  1. Shraddha Sankhe

    Chandeep, did you interview any member of the eunach community?

    You did not mention what are those ‘deserved’ rights; about those who fake their ‘eunach’ness to fight poverty; about women who’re real women who are forced into this; about eunach’s involvement in prostitution. Last, euphemistically, the cherry on our levels of double standards is the fact that most will not even be mentally prepared to employ them.

    I applaud you for the subject. But I’d suggest you dig deeper on their side of the story too.

    -Shraddha.

  2. anoosha

    This is truly nice work.I really appreciate this one.

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