Help pours in for transwoman after ill-treatment

Minister offers support through We Care Project

Close on the heels of a vendor allegedly stopping a transwomen from selling biriyani packets on the roadside at Irumpanam, Thripunithura, on Monday, help is pouring in from all quarters, including the Social Welfare Department, for the community. Actor Jayasurya too has come forward, offering to set up a biriyani shop for members of the community.

Sajana Shaji, a transwoman, was reportedly assaulted and verbally abused by the vendor. A native of Kottayam, Sajana graduated from Maharaja’s College and has been living in Kochi for the past 13 years. After initially eking out a living by begging in trains, she turned to selling food on the wayside. A video of Sajana breaking down after the alleged assault had gone viral.

Minister for Health and Social Welfare K.K. Shylaja spoke to Sajana over phone and promised all help from the Social Welfare Department through its We Care Project. She said members of the community too enjoyed the same rights as those of others. The State government has issued identity cards to them, besides formulating a TG Policy aimed at their upliftment. Attacks on them can never be tolerated, the Minister said. Thripunithura MLA M. Swaraj was among those who offered help to Sajana.

Arrested

Meanwhile, the Thripunithura police arrested Girish, 48, of Eroor under the provisions of the Transgender Persons Protection of Rights Act. He was also charged with assault and use of abusive words against the complainant, the police said. Thripunithura Sub Inspector Ramu Balachandra Bose denied the allegation that the police did not promptly act on the vendor’s complaint. “We made the mandatory preliminary enquiry and arrested the person who has been charged under relevant provisions of the Transgender Persons Protection of Rights Act. This is perhaps the first time in Kerala that the Act is being invoked to charge a criminal case. We have assured all protection to TG vendors. The police here are severely short-staffed, as seven personnel have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, while 15 are in quarantine,” he said.

At the same time, allegation is rife that transwoman vendors were singled out for action by the health wing of the Thripunithura Municipality. The Congress sought action against the police for what it alleged as tardy response. “The assault is a blot on our culture,” said Raju P. Nair, DCC secretary. Party workers also helped transwoman sell biriyani packets on Tuesday. A biriyani fest will be held shortly, where 2,000 packets of biriyani prepared by transwoman will be sold, he said.

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