THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A police station and an awareness class! The combination don’t gel! But that is what is happening at the police stations in the city. For the officials of KSACS Transgender Suraksha Project in Thiruvananthapuram, no other place seems more ideal. According to officials, there is an urgent need to sensitise the police, so that they can ensure better protection of transgenders.
Anju Sankar, a counsellor at Kerala State AIDS Control Society states that transgenders are often ill-treated by the public. “If the police are sensitised in this regard and if their help is obtained in ensuring a safer environment for such people, a lot of their problems can be solved,” she says.
City Police Commissioner H Venkatesh said that the police often turn a deaf ear to complaints made by the transgenders due to ignorance on their part.
“Earlier when transgenders turned up at the stations, they were not entertained by police officers. We have already issued instructions to all police stations to consider their problems seriously. Now, there is also the KSACS awareness drive to sensitise them,” he says.
Kerala State AIDS Control Society launched eight projects dedicated to transgenders born as males in the state since they have been identified as a high risk group prone to HIV. In Thiruvananthapuram, the project has reached out to more than 300 transgenders, none of whom are HIV positive.
Unlike in other places, Thiruvananthapuram does not have regions demarcated as transgender localities, where such persons live together as a single community. This means that the project has to cover every police station between Varkala and Parassala.
The classes have been launched in the city police stations, as majority of the transgenders live in the city. So far sensitization classes have been carried out at the police stations at Karamana, Museum, Thampanoor and Poojappura.
According to the project workers, usually in the beginning sessions, police officers are often found asking transgenders whether they have a mental disorder and if their state of mind can be ‘corrected’. However, at the final session, they can be seen asking questions on how they can offer help.
“After every session, we have noticed a change in their attitude towards transgenders. They offer complete support to protect the rights of this marginalised society. On seeing this, we feel that our efforts did not go futile,” says Anju.
Dale View, an NGO which supports the KSACS TG Suraksha Project in Thiruvananthapuram, is planning to launch more sensitisation programmes in the future. Dale View director Bipin Das said that they would be launching a state-wide programme for transgender sensitisation among police officers on July 10. This programme will be supported by the Voluntary Health Services and UNDP. There are plans to initiate awareness programmes for advocates, people’s representatives and Social Justice Department officials.