Koovagam fest, a time of ‘horror’ for some Chennai transgenders - The New Indian Express

Koovagam fest, a time of ‘horror’ for some Chennai transgenders

Published: 23rd April 2013 07:42 AM

Last Updated: 23rd April 2013 07:45 AM

The Koovagam Festival is one celebration which transgenders across the State eagerly look forward to and never fail to attend. But there have been a few in the city who have faced sexual harassment and have vowed never to step in to the village again.

For Shilpa, that one incident has changed her impression about the festival. She was harassed by some men, who came to the temple village and forced themselves on her. When she refused, she was brutally beaten up.

Kalki, on the other hand, hasn’t gone to Koovagam  for three years since some boys tore open her blouse while she was walking her way to the temple three years ago. “Now, I don’t believe in this ritual of marrying a god and living the life of a widow for a day. I want to lead a normal life like any other woman,” she quickly added.

They claim that men from about eight villages surrounding Koovagam pay visit during the fest only to fulfil their sexual fantasies and their numbers swell more than the transgenders every year.

Puja said that lack of police security was one of the reasons why men have no fear and casually go about physically harassing transwomen who come to fulfil their rituals. “Some men dragged me in to the dark when I was leaving the temple. I somehow managed to escape. Even if you keep the windows of your vehicle closed, they’ll still slide it open and touch you. They find every chance to grope us. It’s only getting worse,” she said.

Apart from the declining number of cops for the large gathering at the temple, Kajol said that their own community people were at fault as it was becoming a place for open prostitution. She finds transgender wearing skimpy clothes and soliciting men a usual affair. “All will be drunk. Our own people welcome such attention. So how can we complain of violence. Perhaps more police presence can help in genuine cases,” said Kajol, who has not gone to the festival for two years.

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