January 12th, 2016
Image Source: vice
Transgenders, one of the most abused communities in India, will be delighted with Kerala’s move of setting up a justice board for them that aims at hearing out the problems faced by the community and ensuring that justice is served. Being the first ever justice board for transgenders in India, it holds immense promise for the development of their community in Kerala. This new initiative has come out as a part of Kerala’s Transgender Policy that was unveiled by State Chief Secretary, Jiji Thomson, during the inaugural ceremony of the first International Conference on Gender Equality a few months ago. After the Supreme Court created a “third gender” status for transgenders in a landmark decision, several states have set up various welfare boards for the progress of transgenders. But what sets Kerala apart is the inclusion of an exclusive justice board which is a first of its kind for transgenders in India.
Why is the justice board so important?
Most of us either turn a blind eye to the Hijras(as we call them in India) or end up getting annoyed by the constant badgering that they keep up in public places to make a living. All we see is a group of people who seem to be begging off the streets when they are healthy enough to work. The problem does not lie in their capabilities but the Indian employers’ outright rejection.
A census conducted in 2014 tells us that the literacy rate among the transgenders in India is 46% which may seem to be on the lower side in comparison with that of the country’s overall literacy rate but still amounts to a large number of educated transgenders that do not get employed due to the social stigma attached to them. Also, a lot of transgenders are unable to complete their education because they are either forced to drop out of schools or voluntarily drop out as a result of the harassment that they face on a daily basis.
The justice board aims to provide free legal aid to the victims of discrimination and violence. The board will also carry out operations like issuing ID cards and maintaining records of the Transgenders without any hassles. It would serve to check the rising violence against the community which has intensified since the Supreme Court’s approval of the third gender. 24*7 helpline, arrangements of home stay facilities for those ostracised by their families, setting up of separate blocks for transgenders in prisons will be a few of the many responsibilities that the justice board hopes to fulfil.
The step taken by Kerala has definitely been motivating but setting up a justice board will not assure justice to the abused community. The true challenge is to keep the justice board up and running so that it is able to exercise its duties efficiently. The welfare board for transgenders was set up in Tamil Nadu in April 2008 which was the first one in the country after which Maharashtra and West Bengal followed suit. The disappointing performance of the welfare board in Tamil Nadu does not set a good precedent.
According to an RTI petition filed by The Hindu in 2015, the last meeting held by the welfare board of Tamil Nadu was in December 2013. The Kerala government must ensure that such a thing does not repeat itself with the justice board for transgenders. After having
The Logical Indian community salutes and congrats the Kerala government for setting a good example for the rest of the country and we request to the Kerala govt. that they must ensure the execution of the justice board’s promises.