Amid reports of physical violence and sexual assault at girls’ and women’s care homes in India, a state government has come up with a strategy that along with tackling the matter at hand would also benefit one of the most neglected minorities of the country: transgender people.
An audit report released by a university, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), last month accused the operators of the facilities in Bihar state of sexually exploiting minor girls being housed there.
In addition, at least 13 inmates from one such facility in Muzaffarpur alleged they were raped by the owner of the NGO, who was arrested along with eight other staff members. Just last week, a security guard was arrested in Chapra on suspicion of sexually assaulting a girl at the center where he worked.
Such incidents of abuse at shelter homes sparked protests in the state and drew attention towards the conditions at facilities that are home to many vulnerable women, including sex workers, sexual assault survivors and trafficking victims.
In response to the assaults, the head of Bihar’s social welfare department said the state would begin hiring transgender people and eunuchs as guards at care homes.
“The recent incidents of rapes at short stay homes have shocked us. So we have planned to employ eunuchs as guards there,” said the welfare department secretary, Atul Prasad.
The proposal of recruiting transgender people is a win-win situation as primarily they pose less danger to women in the center and secondly it would provide them an opportunity of making a living out of a profession which is not looked down upon in the society.
“While on the one hand, the eunuchs will get employment, on the other hand their deployment will strengthen security at short stay homes for girls,” said Prasad.
Even the transgender community approved of the decision, which would also work towards their acceptance in the society.
“Apart from providing us employment, the new job will also give us social recognition. This could be a small initiative but will bring huge change in the society in the long run. We are very happy,” said Anita Hijra, a transgender person from Patna who spoke to the Guardian.
The alarming number of sexual assault cases in Bihar have caught nationwide attention as consciousness about the issue grew and women advocacy groups became more active.
In past five years, around 1,100 rape cases were reported in the state each year.
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