Tuesday, 21 March 2017

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT : “The Third Gender: a role of blessing or despise”

While there are likes of ”Padmani Prakash” and “Madhu Bai Kinnar” which exhorts us to believe in the capabilities of humans ; at the same time the “Third gender” is an ambivalent community lost in the drudges of powerful  and an all pervading religious structure.   
            While the author started to deconstruct the strands of this four thousand old tradition imbibing community, the author realised the magnitude of its nature.  ‘Hijras’ or ‘eunuchs’ have been mentioned in the mythological texts such as Kama Sutra, Ramayana and Mahabharata holding religious positions of power and administration. Also, one of the many forms of Shiva, a principal Hindu deity, involves him merging with his wife, Parvati, to become the androgynous Ardhanari, who holds special significance to many in the hijra community.
            Keeping in mind the religious sanctions of time and their specific roles in the Indian Society, the author fumbled upon a recent inter-personal experience. Commonly the third gender has been assigned with the figment of the culture mores of blessing a newly married couple and newly born male children in the families, whereby the members of the community come in a group to ask for a monetary sum in return for their blessings. Just a few days back, when such an occasion landed four members of the community at a neighbour’s house, the author was forced to question the prevalent social norms and how it has become a bullied business.
            It might sound cruel or even inhuman, challenging the very same premise, but since when did a demanded sum of money by the third gender backed up any legal sanction?
Amusingly, never.
Yes, there have been a few High court judgments where the honourable courts have taken a minority view of the fact that “an already suppressed community shall not be suppressed further”, but isn’t that the very same premise if reasonably questioned brings us to the point of plainly calling it as a “scape-goating” act.
            The transgenders have been cornered and despised by the society yet their assimilation only finds mention when members of the same cornering society are scared to face their abuses and curses to save themselves from the fear of facing any unfortunate circumstance, they pay up the requisite money and get rid -off the social custom. Such a contradiction is far away from any real assimilation of the third gender community in the societal set up whether it is related to their rehabilitation or employment.
The dark allies of gender roles have over powered human rationale and there is a need to ask and probe our own acts. The Supreme Court in a bold step managed to create ripples through the judgement delivered in National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 400 of 2012 (‘NALSA’)] by a division bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri.  By recognising diverse gender identities, the Court has broken the binary gender construct of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ that has pervaded Indian law via inclusion of a third category in recording one’s sex/gender in identity documents like the election card, passport, driving license and ration card; and for admission in educational institutions, hospitals, amongst others.
            Society is a construct of man’s psyche and if that psyche starts feeding on negative social mores and practices, the repercussions are far and many. As prevention is better than cure, it is for each one of us to rise above certain dogmas and entertain constructive measures to encourage betterment of this particular community. Aiding donations, health care services, providing them with free food and sanitation are far better means of acting humane than encouraging outrageous acts of fear and subjugation in the name of religion and godliness.
“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”
-          Ronald Reagan


    Ms. Raveena Sarao
    Assistant Professor
    School of Law
   Jims, Greater Noida

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