Kochi

Transgenders on collision course with the police

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Complaints coming up against ‘criminal activities’ among TGs, say city police

About seven months after Kerala rolled out its groundbreaking policy envisaging equal treatment to transgenders (TGs), its commercial capital is now witnessing a rare battle between the police and members of the sexual minority group.

Officials with the Kochi City police say that several complaints are coming up against ‘‘criminal activities such as prostitution and robbery’’ among TGs in Kochi. Two weeks ago, the police began driving out those the police allege to have been targeting the public, which has run into protests.

While official estimates put the total number of TGs in Kerala around 4,000, the Sexual Minorities Front (SMF), Kerala, maintains that they number around 30,000 and some 500 TGs live in Kochi city alone.

‘‘Most of them are anti-socials, who have come from other places. They have set up base here and ply their trade under the cover of darkness. Though many people have been victimised by them, few formal complaints are being filed owing to the social stigma attached to it,’’ according to City Police Commissioner M.P. Dinesh.

The official denied selective discrimination against TGs. ‘‘We are only against those involved in flesh trade and robbery on the streets. We will act, no matter if they are men, women or transgenders,’’ he said.

According to the police, majority of the complaints are from areas under the Ernakulam Central and Ernakulam North police circles. However, no cases have been registered and no arrests have been made in the absence of specific complaints.

The department has also approached a couple of NGO seeking their assistance in tackling the issue without hurting the sentiments of the community. The TG community, meanwhile, alleged that the police were stomping on their right to travel. ‘‘Those accusing us of begging and prostitution should know that there are not many options for TGs to make a living here. Give us education and work, and we will not end up on the roads for prostitution,’’ held Sheethal Shyam, secretary of the SMF.

Sheethal says that despite bringing their problems to the public domain quite a few times, Kerala police still treat TGs with abundant scorn. To back the point, Sheethal cited a recent instance in which a sub inspector with the city police picked up and packed about 10 members of the community into a police vehicle, and then abandoned them at an isolated location on the outskirts of Ernakulam.

‘‘We have approached the Kerala State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and top police officers pleading to stop police action. We also plan for a legal recourse if they are not ready to stop,’’ said Sheethal.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 7:56:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/transgenders-on-collision-course-with-the-police/article8662355.ece

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