Wednesday, November 12, 2008

13 NOV - Media Coverage

MP from Nepal shocked over Dasarahalli incidents

Bageshree S.

Bangalore: "How can an entire community be targeted because two of its members are facing criminal charges," asks Sunil Pant incredulously, referring to the incidents in Dasarahalli in Bangalore where hijras were targeted and turned out of homes over the alleged involvement of two members of the community in a crime.

Coming from a country which is way ahead of India in recognising the rights of the sexuality minority community, the incident comes as a shock to Mr. Pant, a gay Member of Parliament representing the Communist Party of Nepal (United).

He is the founding member of Blue Diamond Society (BDS), a network of 20 groups and organisations working on HIV/AIDS, human rights and social justice for sexuality minorities.

BDS was part of the legal battle in Nepal which led to the ruling in December, 2007 ordering the Government there to defend and protect the rights of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender people. Issues related to the welfare of the community found a mention in the manifestoes of most political parties in the last elections in Nepal. Nepal has since moved on and sexuality minority groups have been given citizenship identity cards.

That Government has made a special allocation in the budget for their welfare. "Initially, we took up issues related to health and human rights. The next focus is on economic programmes and poverty alleviation that will give them a sense of dignity," Mr. Pant says.

"What needs to be recognised is that hijras and other members of the community are on the streets because they have no other place to go," he says. Things begin to change once other avenues open up, as is happening in Nepal, he adds.

His colleagues in the Nepalese Parliament, says Mr. Pant, are either supportive or want to know more about the sexuality minority community. In fact, the Nepalese are traditionally more tolerant of the community because there is an inherent cultural acceptance. "Hindus worship Ardhanarishwar and Buddhists worship Avalokiteshwar," he says.

Mr. Pant says that documentation done by BDS on violence against the community over the years shows that there was an escalation in atrocities against them between 2003 and 2006, at the height of the monarchic rule. "Naturally, the most powerless and voiceless pay the highest price during such times," he observes.

Both the law enforcing authorities and the political parties in India have something to learn from the Nepalese experience, feels Mr. Pant. "You cannot push people into darkness and expect them to be enlightened," he says.

To align with the sexuality minority makes sense in terms of real-politik too, he adds. Support from the community had a big role in the victory of CPN(U) candidates in the last elections, he says.

Hijras face further harassment

Staff Reporter
'It is wrong to target the whole community'

Bangalore: Hijras residing at Dasarahalli, who have been under pressure to vacate their houses following notices served by the police, were allegedly subjected to further abuse on Wednesday morning.

Soummya, a hirjra from the area, said the police arrived on Wednesday night and announced on loudspeakers that those who continued to stay there should leave immediately.

"Due to pressure from the authorities, many left homes leaving behind their belongings. They spent the night at the Majestic bus terminus," she said.

The situation took a turn for the worse on Wednesday morning when the police arrived on two motorcycles and a van around 9 a.m. and started beating up the hijras who remained in the area, alleged Kala, another hijra.

"Because of pressure from the police our landlords have no choice but to ask us to leave. We have not even been able to get back the deposits we had paid," said Manju, a member of the community.

Speaking about the case of an under-aged boy allegedly kidnapped and castrated by two hijras, following which the community in the area has faced harassment, Kanta said: "Individual cases must be tackled individually. It is wrong to target the whole community."

Jalaja, another hijra, echoed similar sentiments: "Why are we all being treated like criminals? Police have been warning autorickshaw drivers against taking us, telling them to refuse to take us."

Hijras from Dasarahalli were at a meeting of the sexuality minority community organised by Nepalese MP Sunil Pant.

No comments: