The ‘untouched’ portion of Gender Inequality… A take on the Hidden Gender of India on this women’s day!!
Today was a beautiful morning with the world celebrating Women’s day! I checked my mobile phone and got a promotional message from a mall celebrating the day with performances, guidance on women safety and of course some heavy discounts…
The front page of a leading newspaper talked about successful women in India and the inner ones talked about the way society has changed its view about working women and what all is needed to be done for women empowerment. I turned on the Radio and it talked about the importance of women and celebrating the day with the ladies in your home… I saw my dad wishing my mom with a gift he bought secretly for her on this occasion to celebrate her womanhood!
Are times changing?
And then I thought how the world has changed… Indeed there is a change focusing on the betterment of women and slowly the value of women in our lives is been acknowledged. Not saying that things are perfect yet, rather have always talked about issues relating to the need for woman safety in the society and equal rights to education, work and choice of marriageable age but there are some positive changes as we men do admit now that the biggest blessing we have in our lives are women be it in the form of a mother, sister, wife, daughter and also best buddies. The next thought that came was when we celebrate one gender, there is a gender in the Indian society who is completely ignored rather not even accepted as a part of this society yet… The Third Gender!
The Hidden Gender…
Who are they? Where do they stay? All we know is they mostly beg at traffic signals. Unlike other beggars they do not sleep on the footpath, they vanish in the night. Eunuchs are noticed in local trains as well which is another spot for begging. They are humans like us but not at all accepted by the society. All we know is they dance at childbirths and marriages, they beg at the traffic signals, their names are probably champa, chameli, etc. (obviously fake names) and they address young boys as ‘Aye Raju’ or ‘Aye Chikne, dena!’. What more many are aware of is that some are Eunuchs by birth and most of them are castrated men or ‘converted to a Eunuch’. Well, that’s probably the maximum we know about them and believe the information to be true as that’s what we might have seen in movies or experienced at times personally. But don’t you think this hidden gender is very much a part of the society, born here but sent to a different home by their families to avoid social disgrace. We are blessed with a normal life yet we complain of petty issues but if you think about their lives, you will find yourself very fortunate.
Know more about them
I tried to research more on them and found out that they live in separate areas from others and in a cluster. They are also involved in prostitution and live a life of misery similar to prostitutes living in brothels. The biggest problem of their life is acceptance by others… This problem is created by us. It is an agreed fact that whenever we see them by chance, we tend to ignore even looking at them further and avoid having eye contact. Imagine how they feel when they notice you pretending to show them that they do not exist for you. Indeed the reason to behave that way is the fear that the Eunuch would come near you, beg or probably misbehave by trying to touch you. Yes, they do that but not all of them.
And maybe the reason why they do it is to seek your attention. Imagine a life where you do not get a chance to interact with even a single person of the opposite sex. A person who lived in a boy’s hostel and never had any girls even as friends or never even interacted with one could empathize. So the more you ignore them, the more they misbehave to seek your attention. It is a vicious cycle of misbehaviour and ignorance started by us. We ignore them as a community in our society, as an adverse effect they are not provided education or any other job compelling them to beg or sell themselves. And then on the traffic signal, you do not even want to look at them which makes them feel even more hurt and rigid to behave badly. It reminds me of Aamir Khan explaining Ishan’s behaviour in Taare Zameen Par where he says, “Wo apni kamzori ko tedhepan ke libaz mein dhakta hai.” (He behaves badly to cover up his weakness and shame which you created in him) Exactly what they do is something you don’t want them to because you treat them the way they don’t want you to. Expecting the basic respect and dignity of being a human is a right every person deserves. Agreed that they cannot marry someone and start a family naturally (which makes the society feel that they are a useless gender and would live an unsuccessful family life) but marriage and sex cannot be the only criteria to judge someone’s usefulness or contribution to the society. Why can’t they be a part of a family, a sibling, a child and a parent (adopting an orphan)? If that seems so difficult the least is they could be just friends with other men and women. We all need good friends in today’s shrewd world which is full of jealousy and hatred, don’t we?
The society’s hypocrisy
The society is changing towards acceptance of Homosexuals (I am glad we are) but not much towards Eunuchs. For a Gay celeb, we can say it is his preference and post support on social media but we prefer ignoring or rather shooing away the Hijras. It is their preference too and that is how nature has made them so why not accept them? Can you imagine they are not given the basic rights of a citizen like primary education? And then how would an uneducated socially-deprived person behave? If you check the admission forms for any course, most of them have male or female as an option which is quite unfair in itself. Imagine a world where the third gender would have been normally accepted…
Imagine such a world
They are humans with a sound mind; they do possess several talents and a lot of intelligence because of which we might have had some great scientists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, entrepreneurs and what not. Some might have also won an Olympic gold medal for their country. They could have become good politicians or a part of the judicial system possessing the practical thinking of a man and emotional quotient of a woman. Someone could have become a versatile actor who can dance as gracefully as a heroine and also do stunts and actions with the perfection of a hero. Also, a singer who can sing in two voices both masculine and feminine. Or someone could have become a social entrepreneur or a social worker handling an NGO. Nobody can deny the fact that talent and kindness aren’t possessed gender-wise! Indeed we are at a loss by ignoring this whole community of people.
They have been identified as the Third Gender in India by the Supreme Court but it seems to be more on paper. Probably it is our mindset which is preventing them from their basic rights. We have them mentioned in Hindu mythologies and Moghul history yet we fear to make them a part of this current so-called ‘modern & broad-minded’ society. It’s high time we accept the Third Gender as normal humans around us & allow them to be a part of our lives. Things are changing, a few people are working on it, it’s just that the stagnant mindset of the majority needs to change… unless that happens, we would never be able to talk about attaining gender equality in its true sense!