NEW DELHI: The government must integrate concerns of the transgender community in all their policy and strategy for disaster mitigation in view of the coronavirus outbreak, NGOs have said.
They also said the matter is particularly urgent as the community members are perceived to be at high risk of contracting the HIV and that many are possibly into substance use which is very harmful in the current situation.
In an appeal to the government, the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), a non-profit organization, and its partner Sakha said transgenders must be included as a group in all policies and actions devised for disaster mitigation during the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
CFAR works for the rights of a cross section of marginalised communities such as the urban poor, girls, unorganised workers, transgenders and sexual minorities, single women, HIV-positive people and sex workers.
"Just when we were beginning to work systematically with the government and all key stakeholders to build a supportive policy framework and an enabling environment for social acceptance and inclusion of transgenders across services and entitlements, this pandemic has again brought to the forefront the high cost of social exclusion and gender inequality," CFAR Executive Director Akhila Sivadas said.
Concurring with the concern of CFAR, Meera Parida, the co-founder of Sakha, said, "COVID-19 outbreak has pushed us back to those times when we were struggling to come to terms with our identity, get heard and save ourselves from life-threatening challenges like HIV.
" In the context of the raging novel coronavirus epidemic, she urged the government to integrate transgender concerns in all policy and strategy.
"As a transgender, one has to be more prepared to avert the risk of getting infected by coronavirus and this is particularly urgent as the group is perceived as being at high risk of contracting the HIV and that many are possibly into substance use, which is very harmful in the present context," Parida said.
Transgender persons, she said, were struggling for basic necessities, and were worse off than others regarding their access to food and other essentials such as water and sanitation.