Transgender crime: New rulebook but old record system


No separate data-keeping or lockups for transgender persons as the crime rate within the community remains unassessed.

Despite a new regulation by the National  Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the State Crime Records Bureau, Karnataka (SCRB), Bengaluru police, and NCRB itself fail to document crime within the transgender community in a separate category as the authorities continue to record the complaints under petty crimes.

The NCRB declared last year that the changes shall be made on priority to give a separate category to record incidents against or by transgender persons to assess the crime rate better. The changes included the separate keeping of the crime committed by and against transgender persons, along with separate data on transgender prisoners. 

Ponappa A, sub-inspector, Hebbal police station said they have started filing reports under the transgender category but they are unsure if NCRB shows the same on its website. “We are required to submit yearly reports of all the crime-related documentation we did during the year to NCRB and SCRB,” said Ponappa, “which in turn is uploaded on NCRB’s website by their respective officials.”

While the police said that they keep a record and file complaints as and when an incident occurs, the transgender community says otherwise.

 “My friends (transwomen) were falsely accused of theft and were taken to the police station where the policemen seemed clueless on how to go about the case,” said Sumukhi, a transwoman. She said that the police didn’t understand under what category they should file the report. “I heard some policemen whispering among themselves about which lockup the girls must be put in, male or female,” she added.

The police are required to register the crime against and by transgender persons under The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights)Act, 2019. A report on responses received for multiple Right to Information (RTI) applications in 2020 found that the data on transgender crime were notbeing maintained by the police, hence not being uploaded to NCRB’s record.

The statistics of Crime in India, 2020 by NCRB suggests that only one case from Tamil Nadu was recorded in India under the Transgender Persons (protection of rights) Act, 2019. The statistics include the criminal record from all 28 states and nine union territories.

*inserts screenshot of missing transgender data on NCRB*

Karnataka has 1,06,350 criminal cases registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as of 2020 but the number of incidents against transgender persons or by transgender persons isn’t classified separately in the report by NCRB. The crime against or by transgender persons continues to be shown under Special Local Laws (SLL). It has 43,526 and 43,730 cases recorded for 2019 and 2020, respectively.SLLs are acts framed by the state government on certain issues.

Sana Suman, a transgender activist with Sangama NGO, explains why it is important for the community to be covered under the safety umbrella of the police. “Transgender community hesitates to reach out to the police because of the way they are treated in the police stations,” she said.

“Police brutalities and illegal detention are also one of the biggest woes of transgender persons but nothing is ever put on record, everything stays undocumented,” said Sana. She emphasised the need for police sensitivity for transgender persons. “There must be a course during their training period to make them understand the know-how of transgender persons just like they teach how to handle rape cases and juvenile cases,” she added.

Bengaluru has a 50 percent conviction rate for the crimes booked under SLL but most police stations don’t have separate lockups for transgender persons.

“They (police) dump transgender people into the lockup of their choice,” said Sumukhi. “It isn’t easy for them to be stocked up in women’s lockups because I have seen how uncomfortable women become at the sight of being locked up in a similar room as another transwoman,” she added. “More often than not you will see them locked up in men’s lockups and I can’t even begin to tell you how traumatising of an experience that is for them (transgender persons),” she further said.

Police officials from Hebbal police station and Indiranagar police station confirmed that there are no separate lockups for transgender persons. They said that they use the same lockups for transgender persons as they use for women.

The transgender population in India with respect to the 2011 census stands at 4,87,803. A report by The Centre for Internet and Society suggests that there are significant issues with the data related to transgender persons that are fed into state and national databases, which tends to invisible the community. The report also states that the primary problem is how data is collected and collated, which is mostly without any fundamental understanding of the difference between sex, gender, and the relation of these two with the transgender community.