People in Ragiguda slum

Workplace harassment: Transgender persons harassed at workplace switch to begging


Educated transgender persons in the city unwillingly take up begging for livelihood after facing harassment and ill treatment at their workplace.

Bangalore, January 23, 2018Anjali (name changed), a trans woman, a B.Com degree holder, who stands at the MG Road signal for alms, once worked as an accountant at a BPO firm, her co-workers teased and ill treated her for her tall-built, colourful bangles and bright saree. After her boss harassed her,she bid goodbye to that job that paid her Rs.20,000, the only source of livelihood for her and her family in Hassan.

Similarly Christy, a Trans male who worked in a consultancy service said, “I lost my job which paid me Rs.5,000. Women employees felt uncomfortable each time I sat around them. From my dressing to using the rest room everything I did was commented on.”
Ze laughed and went on to say, “At times they gave me advices thinking that I going through a mental trauma and asked me very insensitive questions like are you also a sex worker like other trans persons. Due to delayed payment I left the job after a month.”
The HR department of the consultancy where Christy worked said, “If there is a requirement for trans persons we do hire them but they walk out of the job way in advance because they have their reasons like surgeries and often take leaves. Hence now we think twice before hiring them.”

Mallappa Kumbar, State President, Karnataka Sexual Minority Forum said, “I am a degree holder. I too left a job that paid me Rs.30,000 because of the environment I worked in.It pushed me to a point where I could not take it anymore and quit the job.”

He added, “Transgender people at workplace face harassment, due to which they take up begging. Our community members are well read, well spoken, are educated and also into politics. With that kind of capability, why will choose to beg on signals?”
Veena, an intersex person, who also begs and is a sex worker said, “I hold a BA degree and I am qualified enough to get a job but the people we work with make it more difficult for us to work. I prefer begging any day as it is atleast an independent job where we are not answerable to anyone.”

Earlier in December, the country witnessed protests as transgender communities across the country took to the streets to protest against the Transgender Persons (Protection of rights) Bill of 2016.
Outrageous, criminalizing, nail in the coffin, striping of fundamental rights is what the transgender and the intersex community referred to the bill as. They believe that the bill is more of a bane than boon.
Atleast 500 transgender members of Karnataka Transgender Samithi (KTS) held black placards and shouted slogan to protest against the passing of the Bill.

The bill states that offences like compelling a transgender person to beg, denial of access to a public place, physical and sexual abuse, etc. would attract up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine.
Begging for a large group of trans persons is a major source of income and in the future,it will land them in prison for doing so if the bill is passed.

Umesh, an activist, KTS and Jeeva, who likes to addressed as Uma now,said, “We have faced discrimination over the years, being disowned by our families, pay double the price for houses and travelling. In that case criminalizing begging which is the only means of income for most of transgender people is that even fair.”
Ze added, “We wonder in whose favor are they passing the bill? It is definitely not for the transgender because more than benefiting us it will cause us harm. “

Veena said, “According to the bill, we will be fined or imprisoned.If we are caught begging on the streets.  Won’t that be exposing us to exploitation in the hands of the police and the people even more? Where do we get the money for fine while we are still struggling for earning our livelihood?.”
Umesh said, “Our standing committee, sent across list of recommendations which also included decriminalizing begging but this was rejected by the state government. What is shocking is our standing committee was not even involved when the state government suggested the bill. “

However they are not standing alone in this struggle, organizations like Payana, Karnataka Mangalamukhi Sanghatane, Jeeva, the Alternative Law Forum and Samara have supported the community against the bill.
The KTS said the Supreme Court’s the National Legal Services Authority vs. Union of India judgment (NALSA vs Union of India) was a judgment to dignify them unlike the 2016 Bill,Which provided gender identity to choose between male, female or third gender, internationally recognized practices to provide medical help to the community with the WHO(World Health Organization)  and UN (United Nations) were few of the guidelines of the NALSA  judgment.

The Transgender Persons Bill of 2016 nullifies the judgment of the landmark decision of the supreme court.  Abolishing the right to self-identification of transgender by eliminating the right to be either male or female. Secondly, criminalizes transgender community. Thirdly, reconciliation with their family members.

Umesh added to the criminalization of begging in the bill and said, “Who wants to beg to earn their livelihood but in the Transgender Bill of 2016, there is no mention of providing alternative job to us. We are dependent on this job. Then how can they put a stop to begging?”

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