Indian state to employ trans people as security guards in womens’ homes, after spate of sexual assaults
The Indian state of Bihar has said it will start hiring transgender people and eunuchs as security guards in girls and womens’ care homes, following a series of sexual assaults.
An audit report of more than 100 safe houses in the state in eastern India revealed that girls were being systematically abused by staff at a centre in the city of Muzaffarpur, reports the Guardian.
Earlier this month, a security guard was detained after being suspected of raping a girl at a care home where he worked in Chapra, which lies north of Bihar’s capital Patna.
The assaults have resulted in protests in the state about the safety and conditions inside the homes. These have been led by women’s groups like All India Progressive Women’s Association and Bihar Women’s Network.
Atul Prasad, head of Bihar’s social welfare department, told the Guardian that the state would employ trans people and eunuchs in light of the sexual assaults.
“The recent incidents of rapes at short stay homes have shocked us,” said Prasad. “So we have planned to employ eunuchs as guards there.”
In south Asian societies, eunuchs fall under the umbrella term “hijras,” which also encompasses intersex people and, more recently, trans men.
Prasad claimed that hiring hijras would be beneficial because this marginalised group would get jobs, and women and girls in the care homes would be safer.
“While on the one hand, the eunuchs will get employment, on the other hand their deployment will strengthen security at short stay homes for girls,” he explained.
Speaking to the Guardian, Anita Hijra, a trans person, praised the state government’s decision.
“Apart from providing us employment, the new job will also give us social recognition,” said Hijra.
“This could be a small initiative but will bring huge change in the society in the long run. We are very happy.”
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Some 428 rapes were reported in Bihar between January and April this year, according to a state report. About 1,100 rapes have been reported annually in the past five years in the state.
Bihar has turned to hijras for help before, having previously hired eunuchs and trans people to collect taxes in Patna in 2006.
India’s Supreme Court is currently in the process of hearing a landmark case to legalise gay sex, by scrapping Section 377 of an 1861 law – introduced under British colonial rule – that bans sexual activity “against the order of nature,” including with another man or woman.