Family of murdered transgender woman refuse to accept her body
More than 100 people paid homage to a murdered transgender woman in south India on Wednesday (3 April), after her family refused to accept her body and perform the last rites.
Police are chasing a homicide suspect after the body of 35-year-old Shalu was found dead at 9am on Monday morning.
But, Shalu’s family refused to take her body and perform final rites, according to The News Minute.
‘We tried to convince them’ transgender activist Sisily Georg told The News Minute.
‘But they were not willing to take her back to her house and give her a funeral she deserved. They wanted to finish it off quickly in Kozhikode itself’.
Sisily and other members of the transgender community organized the funeral at the public burial ground.
‘Most transgender persons have been abandoned by their families. So it was up to the department to give her a dignified farewell,’ said Social Justice Officer Sheeba Mumtaz.
More than 100 people paid their respects.
Mainstream society rejects transgender Indians. They do not have equal opportunities at school or in workplaces.
They face widespread discrimination, including from their families.
For that reason, many engage in begging or sex work and live in self-contained communities.
‘Trans people are seen as second class citizens’ Gee Imaan Semmalar a trans activist from national transgender group Sampoorna told Gay Star News.
‘There is hardly any pressure on the govt to bring the criminals to justice’.
The alleged murder took place in Kerala, Gee Imaan Semmalar said. People regard the state as being progressive.
‘Will the police arrest the perpetrators?’ The representative asked.
‘Will the state ensure a safe place with welfare benefits guaranteeing a good quality of life for trans people in India?’
Trans rights in India
Trans Indians celebrated in 2014 when the Supreme Court recognized the right to identify as a third gender in a landmark ruling.
In fact, it came four years before India finally ended its gay sex ban.
A 2018 Transgender Rights Bill passed the Lower House of Parliament last month. Lawmakers said it would enshrine more rights to the community.
But, the trans community argues it does the opposite. Activists called on politicians to halt it in the Upper House.
Activists describe it as ‘extremely problematic’.
Importantly, the bill denies the right to self identify. Officials or doctors would ‘inspect’ trans people before they could officially change gender, according to the bill.
The new bill also has no provisions to encourage integration, they argue.
It also offers no extra protection for trans Indians. Currently, charges of stalking, sexual assault, and rape, apply only to cisgender women.
But, in the run-up to general elections this year, more and more transgender Indians are assuming positions of power.
Transgender Indians will also be able to vote as a third gender for the first time.
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Author: Rik Glauert