Rakshita transwoman and Ondede volunteer, Hidayath, RJ, Radio Active
Introduced program speakers
1st transperson in Karnataka Priya beautician
Amrita Chanda, Activist, Technologist
Kumari (Kumar.B), Activist, Founder Member, Payana
Vidya Dinker, Activist, Co-founder Ondede & Mangaluru Citizens Action Forum
Dr. Shailaja Hiremath, Professor, Women’s Studies, Kannada University, Hampi, Co-founder, Ondede
Dr. B. U. Suma, Associate Professor, Government First College
Arvind Narrain, Founder Alternative Law Forum, Member PUCL
Shakun D, Women’s Rights Activist, Advisory committee member, Ondede
Akkai, Co-Founder of Ondede set the tone for public meeting
Shakun, moderator for the program set the context
What do we see in our lives as intolerance – food, clothes, language, work, ideologies
India is a richly pluralistic society But we are losing it Yesterday someone emailed me that ‘prostitutes’ are causing problems on the road and soliciting and must be sent away. I invite the community to speak first as they experience homophobia and intolerance
Kumari is my identity. I was born as a man. There is a Kannada song
Many tgs live close to each other in Dasarahalli. But police gave a notice to home owners not to rent to them. That is a constitutional violation. An ACP and his team sent tgs and sex workers to beggars colony in 2015 and 2014. That is human rights violation and intolerance. The way sec 377 Delhi HC judgement was overturned by SC in 2013 shows homophobia. Shashi Tharoor’s private member bill was not even discussed in Parliament mainly because of opposition by NDA MP’s and neutral ones.
Priya When we requested govt. to give us support for livelihood options given were tailoring, beautician, computer operator. I chose beautician by home service. Police including women personnel insulted me in public saying that I was out for sex work. I told them to understand various sexual orientation and gender identities and not harass us. They must penalize people who perpetrate sexual harassment, abuse, violence. We are humans like everyone else
Amrita part of LGBTIQAP+ since 2010. Identify as lesbian. Family is intimately involved in intolerance and uses the state. I have met remarkable LBT women. There are many who have run away to Bangalore and are trying to make a life for themselves with the help of organizations and support groups. I have been privileged to know their stories. Women should be taught that they have sexual agency and their safety is important. I recently watched a skit by Sappho community workers who talked about same sex relationships for women also with Jeevika which workers on women’s rights. Women there broke down and shared about being forced into marriage and said about how they wished they knew about this earlier. One of them also talked about how she was fond of a girl and like to hold her close.
Prof. Dominic it is historic that we have converged here under the banner of Ondede. We are sharing about our identity struggles. More than 10 years ago, it was the first time that issues of transpersons was discussed at a meeting of sociologists. Many people said it was abnormal, I challenged if a heterosexual man could prove his sexuality. Since then we have come a long way. Some years back, a transperson was invited to speak about on an AIR program for the first time which is noteworthy. Women from Sadhana Mahila Gumpu spoke in public for the first time at the release of a book on alternate sexualities by Arvind of ALF. I want to mention 2 books which were translated into Kannada – Naanu Avanu Illa Avalu by Living Smile Vidya, a Dalit transwoman in Chennai. Also, the first Autobiography of a Sex Worker by Nalini Jameela from Kerala. That highlighted the need for dignity for a person who earned a living from sex work. Various terms like mangalamukhi, napunsaka linga have been used for transpersons which have been sometimes rejected because of the varied gender identities and sexual orientation that are present. In Netherlands, there is an organization that assists people in understanding their gender identity and sexuality.
When visibility of minorities increases, violence against them becomes invisible. I have seen this with sex workers in Bangalore when they began to organize themselves. This is also a kind of intolerance. Quoted from Michel Foucault. State establishes its power by defining acceptable norms of identity et al. Anyone who does not adhere to that is considered non-conforming. It has put such people in mental illness treatment institutions. What happened in Dadri is not just an attack on religious minorities especially when it was not even definite that it was beef but also on other minorities. Tolerating sexual assault on children is unacceptable but trying to control the sexuality or self-expression of young women and gender minorities is intolerance. Attacking any kind of minorities is intolerance and forces the dangerous reality that even trying to protest or resist intolerance is not acceptable.
State trying to subvert and homogenize cultures is a an important point to remember and also emphasizes the need to keep space open for dissent.
Prof. Shailaja, a disciple of late Prof. Kalburgi became emotional while recalling his work and beliefs. She opined that he was probably a modern Basvanna. Like Ambedkar he said that there is nothing called Hindu Dharma (religion). Basavanna said that Lingayats are not Hindus. There have been more radical writers and thinkers than Prof. Kalburgi. We have to understand their message than perhaps just the specifics of questioning if Lingayats are Hindus. Unfortunately, they have become very staunch proponents of Hindutva. Just considering that rationalists are atheists is insufficient.
Vidya: I come from Mangalore but let me start with a story from Mysore. Exactly on 4th December 2015, a couple in a car who met with an accident were pulled out. The man was beaten up and the lady was kidnapped. This was because Haleema whose father is a major real estate developer who opposed her marriage to a Hindu man organized this. Her husband complained to the police but is unable to do anything to get her back. CitiCentre Mall security service contract is with Sharan Pumpwell who is the chief of the Bajrang Dal in the district. Similarly, the Popular Front of India has Muslim fundamentalists who keep policing and questioning any interactions between young people who are different communities. A handful of Bajrang Dal people stopped the screening of Dilwale for 12 days. The police personnel did nothing. Theatre owners did not dare question them. When we went to the Mangalore Police Commissioner, he said that the film was withdrawn to respect public sentiment. After an FIR was filed, on Veera Kesari FB page, there were threats to my life and derogatory posts. Although they have been removed after 24 goons were named and the leader was arrested, we have screenshots of the page. I do not move out alone as I know there are Bajrang Dal goons (as I call them although they prefer activists) who are watching where I go or whom I talk with.
Arvind: The intolerance of the BJP, RSS, Bajrang Dal, VHP and the entire family of intolerant groups have gone to the extent of saying that sexual minorities are so miniscule and do not matter. Attacking young people who take photographs together or those who fall in love with across religious identities. The idea of love is revolutionary as it is based on sentiment and emotion. Do not fear and love across the boundaries of caste, sexuality, gender, religion. Support the right to love without It is a deep constitutional philosophy. Ambedkar introduced fraternity alongwith equality and liberty. Only when blood mixes with blood will caste be annihilated. When you stand up to goons they back down. Only when a person spoke up, the film was begin to be screened. We can all do something and must do so. This fascism is like Nazi Germany.
Vidya Dinker appealed to everyone to write to Kar police chief and also Mysore and Mangalore chiefs to reunite Haleema and Shivaraj who dared to love across religion
Shaheen said that issues are in the systemic structures. India has dark sides which we must oppose.
Mallu asked what can be done further by us to resist communal intolerance.
Vidya development is just a dream. Modi will use the idea of intolerance. Most of the press is saffron in my city. Largely mediapersons from outside called me. We have to find our way to respond individually and collectively after strategizing.
Vijaya make love and live love. I am Hindu and have been married to a Muslim for 17 years. We have 3 beautiful babies. Akkai has done her bit and shown us the way. Let us too.
Lakshmi Gen Sec Janavadi Mahila Sanghatane. The politics behind fundamentalism must be highlighted. We must fearlessly oppose.
Aasha we must name the people and groups like BJP and RSS who are also defining the image of a good Hindu woman. In Agra there were riots after Sadhvi Rithambara’s poisonous speech following the Babri Masjid demolition. In Delhi when we were doing a candlelight vigil and distributing pamphlets for communal harmony, a scooterist asked me why I was backing Muslims. I said it was a matter of humanity. We in the women’s movement have been doing what we can for 35 years. We urge the youth to resist intolerance fearlessly and we will follow you all.
21-year old from Mangalore said that her father was warned after she talked about openly about communal policing and the attack on her friends who were celebrating a birthday (Mangalore home stay incident). Now I am in Bangalore and my loved ones keep requesting me to keep away from politics. Mangalore is a nice place. Please visit it.
Syeda Farha Fatima please respect transwomen. We cannot sit in a man’s or woman’s seat and need a facility to sit and travel. Shakun said don’t wait for someone. Join the BBPV and ask for your rights.
Ranjitha briefly recalled how she tolerated stripping by 18 policemen for doing sex work.
Vatsala a youngster wrote a short Kannada poem called Naanu Yaaru dedicated to transpersons.
Before giving vote of thanks, Akkai reiterated the need for us to regularly raise our voices in support of all minorities. It is not enough if we do it on Women’s day or once in 6 months. Many feminists and women’s rights activists have opposed gender minorities. I fear about the adverse impact it will have on the youth of this country.
Report prepared by Pushpa Achanta, Writer and Women’s Rights Activist !
End of the report