Gender sensitivity has never been the strong suit of politicians in India, typified by the many foot-in-mouth moments netas have experienced in recent times while advancing remedial measures to take on crimes against women. The Maharashtra government though is trying to make amends with plans to launch a massive sensitisation programme for doctors, police, teachers and other departments, and a formal recommendation for a separate board for the welfare of transgender people will soon be made to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan.
A committee headed by women and child development minister Varsha Gaikwad has prepared a draft on state policy for women, which will be submitted to the CM on March 8 – International Women’s Day – at a programme in Pune. Various panels were constituted to deal with subjects such as education, health, law, gender budget, self-help groups etc, before finalising the summary. When asked, Prof Gaikwad said, “Apart from transgender people, we are trying to include sections of women previously neglected into the policy.”
Sources from the department said noted activist Laxmi Tripathi and others working in the field have been instrumental in devising the policy for transgender people. Citing the altered worldview towards the community, suggestions such as their inclusion in the domain of human rights, sensitisation of doctors, teachers, police and other administrative officials have been made to address concerns.
To mark the beginning of providing transgender persons equal rights, a separate column on various applications and forms to identify these citizens should be composed, the committee has been asked. In absence of birth and domicile certificate, members of the community find it difficult to get admissions in schools and colleges.
Accordingly, present norms should be relaxed to open doorsof education to these citizens, besides a special literacy drive, opening of boarding schools, making available loans for higher education, scholarships, etc, say campaigners.
The draft policy is also likely to recommend pink ration cards for transgendered people and a permanent committee at the state government-level to look into persecutions faced by them. The sensitisation of the police department is also required to rein in the criminalisation of members of the community along with making available medical as well as legal help, the committee is likely to advocate.
Groups working on the issues of transgender persons have urged the committee to start pension for members of the community above 40 years of age, along with a census to record their population in the state. Transgendered people with specific skills should be encouraged to utilise them for their well-being, the committee has been told.