In a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country, Kerala is planning to reserve separate blocks for transgender inmates in its jails.
The state’s jail department is building a high-security prison block in Thrissur’s Viyyur Central Jail which will exclusively house third gender inmates and other jails will follow suit soon.
“Their requirements are different. We have to be more sensitive towards their problems. Such a move will help them to come forward and identify themselves without any taboo,” said director general of police (jail) Loknath Behera.
In Kerala, there are 52 prisons, including three central jails, which house at least 8,000 inmates. The state’s jail department says there are 40-odd transgender prisoners in various prisons.
Members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender) community are either put in women’s or men’s cells which pose various problems for them. As their numbers are miniscule, their rights are overlooked and they are often subjected to sexual assaults in prison cells.
“We are sure such dedicated blocks will help end some of their miseries. We will protect their privacy also,” said Behera.
The exclusive block for the third gender will not be accessible to other inmates of the Viyyur Central Jail.
“If a separate block is built within the complex other prisoners will be able to identify them easily. It will pose more problems for them,” said K Anil Kumar, special officer in charge of the high-security jail, adding the block would be protected with modern equipment.