Gujarat transwoman painter fears for her life, alleges abuse for refusing to beg
- The incident came to light on Thursday after the alleged assailants made a video of the incident and spread it across certain social media groups.
A 21-year old transwoman, who is a Warli artist and works with slum-dwellers, was allegedly kidnapped, beaten and forced to strip in public by another group of transgenders on February 15 night in Rajkot, she claimed.
The incident came to light on Thursday after the alleged assailants made a video of the incident and spread it across certain social media groups.
“They mercilessly pulled my hair, kicked me in my private parts, called names. They first beat me up at home, in the autorickshaw when they were taking me and then near the hotel (on Gondal Road). They also shot a video of me stripping and as they thrashed me,” she said.
She said she was beaten and abused as she didn't want to beg for money. “I didn’t want to beg for money. I have a talent and that is adequate to lead a proper life and so I kept away from the others. What happened was some members of their group (who had assaulted her) left them and joined my group of the LGBTQ community. Some are learning Warli art with me, while all of us work to help the slum-dwellers in the city as social work. As more transgenders, who didn’t want to beg on the streets, joined me, the others were angry and did this to me.”
She wasn’t willing to talk till a Pune-based LGBTQ activist Damini Sinha asked her to. Sinha said, “She was too scared to lodge an FIR but also determined to move the police. If unchecked, such incidents would increase.”
She did not approach the police as the group of assaulters took her to the police station.
“See their guts and police connections. After doing all that to me, they took me to the police station. The cops there won’t listen to me. The only help and that time was a PCR van which dropped me home at 2 am,” the Warli painter said.
Sinha said her assaulters had taken her to A-Division police station where they did not listen to her nor were willing to register a case, saying since she was kidnapped from her home in Malviya Nagar, the FIR would be lodged there.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Manoharsinh Jadeja, said, “we are on election duty, check with the police station.” Police Inspector KN Bhukan of Malviya Nagar claimed, “This girl never came to our police station. It is not possible for us to refuse to take her complaint.”
The victim said she would lodge a complaint on Saturday with the help of a woman activist, who is also a teacher in Rajkot and associated with NGO Samajik Ekta Jagruti Mission. “Now, I have her support to step out of home and lodge a complaint,” she added.
On Saturday, before she could step out of her home to go to the police stations, a group of eunuchs knocked on her door early in the morning. “I was scared, I knew if I opened they might even kill me. I didn’t open the door and called the police,” she told Hindustan Times.
A van from the Malaviya Nagar police came soon and took her and the eunuchs at her house to the police station to lodge her FIR in the incident.
“At the police station, they created a huge scene and demanded that I should be thrown out of Rajkot. When the police tried to cool off the matter and were ready to take my FIR, the group of eunuchs stripped, staged demonstrations and shouted slogans against the police,” she recounted the incident. Local Gujarati media even recorded the incident live.
The police recorded her statements about the entire incident right from February 15 night. However, being a tribal, she wanted to lodge the complaint under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
“Since I wanted to register the case under the atrocities act, I would need a caste certificate which I did not have at that time. I will have to go to my native village in Surendranagar district to get it,” she said. Once she gets the certificate, she would be able to lodge the complaint.
“I have told the police that I fear for my life and these people may attack me again anytime and so will need security. They told me once the FIR is lodged, they will provide me with security. Till then, if I need help, they promised they are there,” the Warli painter said.
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