Transgender guards is Bihar's answer to sex abuse at shelters
* Ten people, including staff members, were arrested in June on charges of sexually exploiting several girls at a short stay home in Muzaffarpur.
* Earlier this month, two persons, including the security guard of a short stay home in Chhapra, were arrested after a 23-year-old mentally challenged woman was found to be pregnant.
FOLLOWING COMPLAINTS of sexual exploitation at short stay homes or shelters for women and girls, the Bihar government has decided to employ transgenders as security guards.
The decision follows a report submitted in May by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), which was asked by the state social welfare department to carry out a social audit of these shelters.
“The TISS report talked about the complaints of sexual exploitation and the corrective measures that need to be taken. Since the TISS team named several girls, the report cannot be made public. But we filed a case in Muzaffarpur, on the basis of the team’s findings, and asked our officials to conduct periodic social audits of the short stay home. The Chhapra case came to light as part of our follow-up measures after the TISS report,” Atul Prasad, principal secretary, social welfare department, told The Indian Express.
“We have been studying the proposal to employ transgenders as security guards at short stay homes for a while. After the chief minister endorsed the proposal on Monday, we issued a formal order on implementing the change. Transgenders will be given priority for employment as security guards at short stay homes. This move will help avert sexual exploitation, and also offer employability to transgenders and give them social parity,” he said.
Set up to offer shelter and rehabilitation to victims of domestic violence or trafficking, short stay homes are run by NGOs which get government grants. There are 110 such shelters — separate for girls and women — spread across 38 districts of Bihar. Five of these, including those at Chhapra and Muzaffarpur, have been closed down recently. Most of these shelters can house about 50 inmates.
In the Chhapra and Muzaffarpur cases, the FIRs have named security guards of the short stay homes, a district child welfare committee member and a social welfare department official. The Muzaffarpur NGO, Seva Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti, which was operating four short stay homes — all have been closed down — has been blacklisted.
Prasad said that while there is a demand to employ transgenders in anganwadi centres, the state government needs time to study the social response to the idea. He said the social welfare department has ordered a district-wise census by the Transgender Welfare Board.
“We are happy that the government has accepted the proposal to employ transgenders as security guards. It is not about the money but about getting equity and social acceptability. But we want the government to appoint transgenders as security guards through a proper monitoring agency, and not through any NGO,” said Reshma Prasad, a member of the Transgender Welfare Board and secretary of Dostana Safar, a private organisation working for the cause of transgenders.