Book on Hijras of Kashmir released
SRINAGAR: Kashmir Women’s Collective (KWC) here on Thursday released a book based on the transgender community of the valley written by renowned activist and scholar Aijaz Ahmad Bund.
‘Hijras of Kashmir—A Marginalized Form of Personhood’ is a collection of 24 in-depth interviews of transgenders done by the author to narrate their heart-wrenching and painful tale of victimization and disregard in the society.
The book is first ever study about the transgender community of the valley that reflects their socio-economic status. People from different walks of the society were present on the occasion. They bit their fingers after listening to the stories of the community that were invited to inform public about the discrimination they face in day to day life.
Mohmmad Yousf, a transgender, popularly known as Reshma said that he faced discrimination when he was mastering art of sewing from a local tailor in the neighbourhood.
“From those days people used to tell me not to look at this and that person. In the present time the situation is not different…we face many difficulties like that our own people do not accept us,” Reshma said.
Reshma said that most of the transgenders are living miserable lives as they cannot afford to pay rent for their accommodation after crossing certain age.
“How can a transgender earn by singing? After crossing a certain age they cannot earn from singing. Earlier we also used to earn from match making but since boys and girls marry of their own choice our condition has worsened,” Reshma added.
Mehraj-ud-Din, another transgender, popular by the name Sahiba said that transgender community starve for medicines as no one comes for their help as if they don’t exist in the society.
“One of our community members died of burn injuries in harsh winter some years ago While sleeping under an open sky on a shop-front. He had caught fire as Kangri had tumbled while he was in deep sleep,” Sahiba said.
Saihaba said double standards lie within the people when on one hand they give them respect at their home during marriages and on the other hand when a transgender is seen on streets people smother them with epithets.
“Why don’t people insult us when we entertain them for a whole night during marriages? Hasn’t God given us life? Don’t we have right to live with dignity and honour?” Sahiba said.
The transgenders said that government has also forgotten them by not doing anything needful.
“We went to Omar Abdullah when he was the Chief Minister, the guard outside his cabin sent us back saying he was not inside, same thing happened when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was the Chief Minister, and similarly we were not allowed to meet Mehbooba Mufti sometime ago?” an elderly transgender said. “We face the worst kind of discrimination as compared to the transgender community living in India. Their issues get resolved and demands get fulfilled within no time but here nothing happens.”
Kashmir’s prominent satirist Zareef Ahmad Zareef, who was also present on the occasion, recalled his childhood days when people used to respect transgender people.
“No one would dare to say anything to them because it was believed that if you break the hearts of transgender they will curse you and God will listen to the curse right away as they question God about themselves,” Zareef said.
Interacting with the audience Bund said that the book describes the overall condition of transgenders including their social, economical and mental conditions.
“Several transgenders are suffering from depression, stress and other mental issues. When I was doing their interviews I came to know several transgender community members have attempted to commit suicide,” Bund said.