By Mesha Murali:
If you have ever travelled in a public transport in India, you most probably might have encountered eunuchs begging (more often demanding) for money in return for blessings of good luck, while cursing you in case you decide to ignore. Many would have shelled out some money while cursing them under their breath, while others might have just ignored despite their ranting. But how many of us have actually given a thought as to what has brought them to begging for a living? Honestly, not even a hand full.
These people, call them eunuchs, transgender or hijras are actually victims of the cruelty that this society inflicts on anyone who is the slightest bit ‘different’ than the ‘normal’. Eunuchs are mainly physiological males who have feminine gender identity but some may be intersexual (with ambiguous genitalia). They live in a state of deprivation of status, basic health facilities, education, employment and law that would help them lead a life of equality and dignity. Many are denied acceptance by their own families who think of them as Â a taint on their family name and subsequently, they are withdrawn from schools, depriving them of basic education. When it comes to opportunities available in major sectors of employment they are next to nonexistent, leaving them no option but to turn to begging, prostitution and performing to earn their income. People tend to avoid or treat them as laughingstock, while there are some who even fear them.
My question is whether there is any hope for ‘hope’ left? Do these ‘different’ people have a chance to lead a normal life of dignity and acceptance? There is a need for people to do away with their differences and misconceptions, and embrace them with an open heart. This change can come about when instigated at the root level, i.e. education. The education system needs to sensitise children towards these differences and eliminate feelings of ignorance and fear. Values of equality need to be nurtured.