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Transgenders in Bengal can now file harassment complaints online

Move comes against the backdrop of frequent allegations of police apathy when transgenders go to file complaints.

kolkata Updated: Nov 01, 2016 11:27 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan times
Transgenders,West Bengal,Manabi Banerjee
The state government has taken a few steps to being the transgenders to the mainstream, but police apathy seems to be on the rise.(HT Photo)

The members of transgender community in Bengal will soon be able to file online complaints in case they are subject to sexual and physical harassment.

The move comes following complaints of police apathy in registering complaints of victims, and incidents of harassments rising in the state.

Read: Social inclusion: Bengal govt rains sops on transgenders

The state social welfare department in association with recently- constituted state transgender development board has decided to shortly introduce an online- cum- mobile application, through which complaints can be made.

“The link to the application can be found on the website of the state social welfare department. People will also be able to download the application on their android phones, from where they will be able to file their complaints online,” said an officer attached to state social welfare department.

In 2015 in the Sovabazar area of north Kolkata, a Durga idol was created representing a transgender. (Subhendu Ghosh)

The officer said that the complaint on sexual or physical harassment can be filed directly by the victim, or anyone on behalf of the victim. “The state social welfare department will receive such complains and direct follow- up action,” the government official said.

Read: Transgenders will vote as the third sex in Bengal polls

Sources further said recently the state transgender development board has received several complaints from the victims in the community about police reluctance in registering their complaints and filing FIRs. There were also complaints against police of humiliating the victims when they went to file complaints.

Manabi Bandyopadhyay, the first member of the transgender community to become the principal of any Indian college, has been the most prominent face of the marginalised community in Bengal, but she is an exception, and an overwhelming number continues to face social humiliation. (HT Photo)

Over the past few years, the Mamata Banerjee administration took a number of initiatives to bring the transgender community to the mainstream. These included setting up of the development board, involving community members for judging best Durga Puja idols, selecting Manabi Banerjee as the first transgender principal of a college in the country.

Read: We live in amazing times: Transgender man gives birth, breastfeeds baby

“The state social welfare department has decided to introduce this online complaint filing system, so that such complaints directly reach the departmental authorities, which can order or direct follow- up actions depending on the gravity of the complaint,” the state social welfare department official said.

He said that besides facilitating filing of online sexual or physical harassment complaints, the state government will also provide online legal advice and online counselling to the members of the community and their family members.

Read: Kolkata will worship 1st transgender idol at this year’s Durga Puja

“We will hire private legal practitioners, psychiatrists and psychological counsellors on remuneration basis to render online advice to the people from the community and their family members for some fixed hours on some fixed days in a week,” the state social welfare department official said.

Already, some NGOs working for the transgender community are running such online or telephone helpline services. But this is the first time that the state government will adopt such an initiative.

First Published: Nov 01, 2016 11:27 IST