Hyderabad: Can a mere helpdesk change lives? If the desk is for transgender people, the answer is a big yes. The country’s first Transgender Help Desk by the Cyberabad Police is said to be one such move, with the trans community wholeheartedly welcoming the initiative.
According to Asifa, a trans woman and lawyer, the desk was an absolute necessity as trans people were usually afraid of approaching police.
“There are many nuanced problems that transgenders face, including different forms of blackmail. In addition to this, most are afraid of approaching police as they fear the way cops would talk to them or behave with them. A specialised desk like this, with an educated trans woman handling it, will act as a bridge between police and transgenders and bring out hidden issues,” says Asifa.
Members of the community face violence and discrimination from society, including their own families, but the violence that happens within the Hijra/trans communities is little known.
“There is a Hijra mafia, and if someone doesn’t play by their rules, they threaten them, beat them up, sometimes worse. The age-old Haveli system of the Hijra community only wants members to beg and perform sex-work, as this ensures a steady income for gurus of the Havelis. Police will now know what exactly is going on,” says Chandramukhi Muvvala, a trans woman.
The initiative also has an anonymous complaint drop-box. According to trans woman and RTI activist Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogili, this will shed more light on intra-community violence. “Complainants receive threats but now with this anonymous complaint system, a lot of issues that were unspoken before will come to light. If implemented correctly, it can curb violence against the community and within the community as well,” says Vyjayanti.
Another thing that all three agree on is the necessity of having a trans woman as part of the desk. “Having an educated, sensitised trans woman on the desk will help victims greatly as they can offer proper counselling if necessary and assist with filing complaints or cases,” says Chandramukhi.
There is also the issue of harassment by some trans persons of society, which leads to marginalisation and transphobia. If there’s a wedding or inauguration of a business, Hijras come to bless and take alms but in recent times, it has bordered on extortion, as Aditya, a young professional points out, “A group of Hijras came to our house on my wedding day and created a ruckus, demanding a huge sum. They refused to leave till we called police.”
According to Chandramukhi, acts like these are done by the ‘Hijra mafia’. The transgender desk can act as a deterrent to such acts, she says, adding that it will also help in curbing crime by transgenders.
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