The Malabar Cultural Forum in association with the Janamaithri police and the residents’ associations in the city on Saturday conducted an awareness programme to sensitise the police and the city residents on the issues faced by the sexual minorities.
The programme, ‘Pehchan’ (identity), was supported by Sangama, a Bangalore-based organisation fighting for the rights of sexual minorities. The main thrust of the day was to define gender and sexuality in a proper way so as to dispel misconceptions in the public sphere.
“The way society perceives us as sex workers needs to change. We should be seen just like any other citizens. In view of the World Health Organisation’s findings that alternative sexuality is not a disease, practices such as forced treatment and marriages should be stopped. The police and residents associations can go a long way in taking this message to the people,” said Sanjesh A.C., Project Manager of ‘Pehchan’.
Sexual harassment of sexual minorities was another point of discussion. In a sample of 100 sexual minorities under the age of 13, it was found that as many as 58 were subjected to some kind of harassment, Mr. Sanjesh told The Hindu .
He added that regular medical checkups needed to be conducted to prevent the incidence and spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
It was decided to conduct residential association level awareness campaigns. One such campaign will be conducted in Farook panchayat next month. The Janamaithri police suggested the residents’ associations to think in terms of providing job opportunities to sexual minorities.
“We are creating awareness among our community to avoid sex work and to take up regular jobs. Finding jobs fitting each individual’s aptitude is a challenge as most of them are not highly educated. The social stigma makes it impossible for us to have a regular education in schools,” said Mr. Sanjesh.