I am a 21-year-old transgender — a woman trapped in the body of a man. I am an outcast, abhorred by society. My family disowned me when I told them I wanted to live like a woman. I am pursuing BA from DU through correspondence. To earn a living, I became a sex worker. There was no other option as no one was willing to give me work. But even this job is not easy for I put my life in danger every night when I roam the streets, looking for clients.
There are nearly 10,000 transgenders in Delhi, but we never move in groups because that deters clients from approaching us. That makes me an easy prey to goons, drunk truck drivers and pickpockets. Many a times, I have been brutally raped after being robbed of my money and jewellery. I often come back home — battered and bleeding. If you asked me how many times I have been raped, I will have no answer for I have lost count. I have often been hospitalised with help from NGOs due to the brutal sexual assaults.
Once I was going home at night after attending a friend’s party and took a shortcut through a park close to my home. Five men were hiding behind the bush. They attacked me, pushed me to the ground and pounced on me. The assault was so brutal that it ruptured my breast implant. I started bleeding. A few passersby brought me home. I was bed-ridden for the next few weeks. I had no money. Life became hell those few weeks.
‘Please us, or get raped’
My most cruel assaulters are often the men in uniform. Yes, the cops, who blackmail us to pay hafta so that we can carry on with our job as sex workers. Refusal to please them means lathis, kicks in the mouth, abuses and finally, rape. I have often been raped by cops in parks, and even inside lock-ups. Some often stop me on the road and ask for a quick oral sex. Even when I step out from home for personal work, they insist on sex. Any resistance is met with abuses and torture. At times, I try and run away from the cops. I once even bit their hand in a bid to escape.
The victim says she has lost count of the number of times she has been raped — by both policemen and criminals.
I was once looking for clients in front of a park when four cops approached me. I was alone at that time. “If you want to solicit, you will have to please us first (Yahan khada hona chahti hai to pehle hamare sath karna hoga),” one of them said. When I resisted, they dragged me to a secluded spot and took turns at raping me. They raped me for about five hours and made me perform oral sex. They also beat me up, took away my belongings and left me writhing in pain.
I managed to reach home with great difficulty and was taken to a clinic the next morning. I was at the same spot a few months later, when one of those cops recognised me. He said, “So, you are back. Last time it was four of us. This time, it will be eight.”
Horror inside lock-up
I was once held by the police for roaming on the roads late in the night. They arrested me, told me what I do was illegal and threatened to book me under severe sections of the IPC. I was taken to a lock-up. The moment I stepped in, I heard cops say, “Ab 6-7 din aaram se kat jayenge (Now we can have fun for the next six-seven days).”
I was locked up in a room and raped by many cops that night. I screamed in pain, but they took no pity. “Why are you screaming? Don’t you do this every night,’’ one of them said. I lay there, naked, the whole night. I was released in the morning with the help of some friends who brought a sheet to cover me up.
Where do I go to get my complaint registered? There is no platform for someone like me voice my grievances. If I speak up, I can even get killed. Who will assure me of my safety? I often pray that no one is ever born a transgender.
NGOs confirm rape by cops
Rights activists, who work with transgenders and bisexuals, say such incidents are a common occurrence. “I have come across several such cases of brutal sexual assault on transgenders by the cops. They come and narrate their horror tales to us. A transgender reported being raped by cops for weeks inside a famous Delhi prison. We can’t do much in such cases because the victims themselves back out from identifying the cops, fearing revenge, and we have no proof,” says lawyer and activist Shashi Bhushan of Naaz.
Transgenders are often raped by cops if they refuse to pay them hafta on time or refuse free sex, says Jatin Kumar, project coordinator, DART, another LGBT rights NGO. “Transgenders have no faith in the system. All we can do is get the victims treated,” says Kumar.
Rudrani Chettri, director, Mitr Trust, says she comes across at least one such case of sexual abuse in which policemen are the culprits. “When a transgender is new in sex trade, she doesn’t know the rules. When a cop asks for sex, she tries to run away. That’s when she is chased and put in a PCR van. The rape takes place inside the lock-up, often in the most brutal manner,” Chettri said.
The Delhi Police has promised to make its men more gender-sensitive. Hope they are reading this.
(As told to Shara Ashraf)