TW: Sexual assault, body dysmorphia.
We all binge-watch various web series on different OTT platforms, like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hotstar, and more, and these series showcase various social issues from our day-to-day life. We feel connected to these social issues and may also feel thoughtful while watching these seasons, but rarely we take actionable lessons from them.
How many of us have watched Paatal Lok? Most, right? Yes, it was worth watching. The series really opened up about many social issues. But the question is how many of us have given a thought about them?
In this article, we will discuss a gender-based issue that we observed in Paatal Lok.
The revelation of Cheeni being a transgender was a total eye-opener for us. For the first three episodes, Cheeni was portrayed as a North-Eastern girl who was left by her uncle in Bhramaputra Mail, which departs from Dibrugarh (Assam) to Delhi, she since then lived in the Nation’s Capital and engaged in petty work for survival.
While in the locker room, when another inmate, who happened to be a sex worker, assaulted and abused Cheeni for her ethnicity and calling her a ‘Nepali prostitute’, the sex worker gets hold of Cheeni’s genitals and realized that she is not a woman but a transgender woman, she, in shock, got away from Cheeni and started to shout out for the prison in charge.
Finding Cheeni ‘unsuitable’ to be kept in the female ward, she was shifted to the male prison. The male prison presented her with even tougher times, her entry created an uncomfortable scene for her when other male inmates gazed at her lustfully. More agonizing was the scene when she had to bathe with male prisoners and one of the male prisoners started masturbating by looking into her eyes while she bathed.
These two incidents press on the issue that the transgender people should neither be put in the male or a female cell. There is a need for a separate jail for the transgender community.
If this issue would have been an issue of any binary sex, voices would have been raised immediately as it is more relatable to us, but when it’s about the trans community who are still deprived of their basic rights, most people don’t even accept them as a part of society then how can we think about raising a collective voice for them.
We Indians believe in the concept of “Unity in diversity” and we are beautiful together with different cultures, caste, and religions. Then why can’t we accept trans people in our society, they are also human creations like us. So why is this an abnormal concept for most of us? Do you ever think about that, or question WHY?
It’s not the fault of individuals but the society. People don’t even believe that there can be another gender apart from ‘males’ and ‘females’.
People, do not understand that sex and gender are two different terms. Sex is characterized by reproductive organs and gender is characterized by what an individual thinks about themselves. The Supreme Court in a landmark judgment, NALSA V. Union of India (2014) said that “the gender to which a person belongs is to be determined by the person concerned.”
Transgender people are human beings created by humans only. As we accept a girl or a boy as a baby (they are having biological differences too) we should accept transgender people as well. They are not a problem, they are like us, and as beautiful as all of us. Our mindset has deprived them of the opportunities to build their own identity and forced them to choose a separate profession and community. We need to accept them and create an inclusive space for them in society.
Even after transgender people have been recognized by the supreme court, still, apart from Kerala, no other state has introduced separate prisons for them.
Why is it being delayed? Is it because of the insensitivity of the government towards the LGBTQIA+ community, or they don’t even consider it as a problem? Very few political parties have discussed this issue.
So, we must make it a mass movement and support groups who are already working on this issue to pressurize the government to act on it as soon as possible.