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The Hijra Community in India

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By Ayush Bhuyan:

Commonly known in south Asia, especially India as Hijras, chakkakhusra in Punjabi and kojja in Telugu, these kinds of transgenders are physiological males who have feminine gender identity. Their presence is recorded as early as the time of Kama Sutra. Also in Mahabharata, Arjun was depicted as a transgender. This has evolved into a distinct community in India. Many hijras live in close communities, each hijra group being led by a leader, the guru. These groups accept the boys who have been disowned by their families or are orphaned. The acceptance into the community involves removal of penis, scrotum and testicles without anaesthetic. However, most of the eunuchs are not castrated.

Some of them also have ambiguous genitalia, and are referred to as the third sex. Some hijras serve as prostitutes for a livelihood. Even recently, in the times that we’d like to call “progressive”, India has seen only very few hijras taking up respectable positions in society. Some hijras may form relationships with men, and even marry, although their marriage is not usually recognized by law or religion. The term hijra has also developed in a derogatory manner due to their low status in the society. Many get their income from performing at ceremonies, begging, or sex work.

Beginning 2006, hijras were engaged to accompany Patna city revenue officials to collect unpaid taxes, receiving a 4 per cent commission. Hijras are often encountered on streets, trains, and other public places demanding money from people. If refused, the hijra would attempt to embarrass the men into giving money, using obscene gestures, profane language and even sexual advances. Hijras also perform religious ceremonies at weddings and at the birth of male babies, involving music, singing, and sexually-suggestive dancing. These are intended to bring good luck and fertility. Although hijras are most often uninvited, the host usually pays the hijras a fee. Many fear the hijras’ curse if they are not appeased, bringing bad luck or infertility, but for the fee they receive, they can bless goodwill and fortune on to the newly born. Hijras are said to be able to do this because, as it is assumed by people, they do not engage in sexual activities, as a result of which they accumulate their sexual energy which they can use to either bestow a boon or a bane.

Hijras can also come as an invitee to one’s home, and their wages can be very high. Hijras that perform these services can make a very good living if they work for the upper classes.

During the British rule, this community was listed under the Criminal Tribes List and considered a “criminal community”. The eunuchs were constantly monitored and stigmatized, which prevails even today to some extent, even though the criminal status has been removed. To this day people consider hijras as inappropriate humans and unequal.  Violence against hijras, especially hijra sex workers, is often brutal, and occurs in public spaces, police stations, prisons, and their homes. They face extreme discrimination in health, housing, education, employment, immigration, law.

The transgender beauty pageant organised sometime back in Mumbai was a major step towards ensuring Human Rights security among transgenders. Many organisations, most of them Non-Governmental Organisations are now emerging in the public sphere, and every day, they press for greater rights to this long-isolated community. Though, in spite of all current advocates of rights for the Hijra community, every day is a struggle for them, as they try to blend into a society where gender identities of only the “conventional” type are heeded.

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You must be to comment.
  1. Namrata Adsul

    I have this query about human trafficking. That day I was having this conversation with my friends and we felt a very strong urge to do something about it. We thought of spreading awareness and looking out for the ones who are being targeted. Just one fear prevails is how do we keep ourselves safe? If the dalal or whoever is the dealer comes to know about the things and precautions we are taking, we are in trouble. And the local police also won’t really be ready to provide protection, they would want us(kids..for them) to stay out of it. What to do?

  2. Debashis Dutta

    I am a Hijra and want to come out in the open. I feel threatened by other straight people as they make ugly gestures at me. Please contact me at debashdutt@hotmail.com and share your experience.

  3. Yamini

    Iam looking to meet TG ‘s and CD’s , like minded people please contact me . I am a male CD . yamini_cdtg@yahoo.com
    Iam physically a male with womens mind , sex seekers please excuse and dont contact .

  4. pradeep

    i am cd and wish to live as hijra and i need support to become a full time hijra

  5. Jerry Reiter

    Hello, I am a writer in the United States. I am looking for a person who is hijra, and has had an interesting life story. my email is rustyreiter@gmail.com or you can see me on Facebook.

  6. priya

    mai ek bottom gay hu mujhe hijra group me rahna pasand hai.hijra contect me for support 9549873606

    1. NIDHI bansal

      mai ek bottom gay hu mujhe hijra group me rahna pasand hai.hijra contect me for support 9810193455

  7. PINAL JAIN

    I WANT TO BECOME HIJRA BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO PLEASE HELP.

  8. Ajay kumar

    Hi Friends
    I am a male gender looking for FEMALE HIJRA only for marry not other purpose …only serious minded & respectable female hijra can write to me in details ..my mail id k.anjaan@yahoo.com
    Regards
    Ajay

  9. NIDHI bansal

    Hi I'm NIDHI kinner I want join kinner hijra group samaj parmanantly plz any help me

  10. NIDHI bansal

    I'm NIDHI m2f crossdresser I'm completly as female I want join hijra samaj group plz help me how to join hijra group

  11. NIDHI bansal

    I'm male to female crossdresser I feel I'm completly female I want join hijra samaj group plz help me I'm nidhi

  12. NIDHI bansal

    mai ek bottom gay hu mujhe hijra group me rahna pasand hai.hijra contect me for support 9810193455

  13. Sagar Kumar

    muje bhe hijra banna hai pls help me 9377887389

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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