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The Exceptional Lives of The Third Gender “Hijras”

The need to emphasize whether they have a life or not lies simply on our stance towards them

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Hijras
A group of Hijra in Bangladesh. Wikimedia

July 25, 2017: In the midst of a classic world, there exist the third gender dilemma. Eunuch, Hijra or Kinnar – as we would call them have a life of their own. The need to emphasize whether they have a life or not lies simply on our stance towards them. In the earlier times, this category of gender had a special place in the royal manor of the king. They were used to guard women of royal families but with the passage of time, the need to hijras has arisen. The value of the third gender has degraded to such a level that it has become difficult to bring back their esteem in the present times.

Hijras
Portrait of a reputed hermaphrodite (Hijra) and companions – Eastern Bengal. Wikimedia

Here is what you need to know about the third gender:

-Hijras are formed by the process of emasculation which makes a man less potent. Hijras remove their genitals to complete the further transformation. They also dress like females, which adds to the look more austerity.

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It is believed that every hijra has its guru who is also a hijra. The guru predicts the date of demise which is again believed by many to be 100% accurate. Once the death date is revealed, the hijra starts worshipping their god to forgive him for the sins committed in the past as a clear indication of giving them the birth of a clear gender.

ALSO READ: India becoming more Transgender- Friendly: Read this report 

Hijras are not only cursed when alive, even their corpse is beaten to scare the soul for not coming to earth as a third gender. The rituals involve ripping off their clothes and hanging the body upside down for the scavengers to feed on them. Nevertheless, some observation in the present also conveys the peaceful and respectful departure of the soul of Hijras. The corpse is wrapped in a white cloth and all the ornaments are taken off from their bodies so that nothing stops the soul from departing the body of a third gender. Hindus cremate the body while the Muslim burry it. Prayers are held to offer them a good afterlife and forgive them for their sins.

Hijras
Hijras of Panscheel Park-New Delhi.Wikimedia

Hijras are special people whose blessings and curses are the most powerful. Hence it is always advised to never deny giving them money when they preside on occasions like child birth, marriage, or buying a new property.

The Hijras seen on traffic lights have been castrated to become members of the third gender by some of the people involved in human trafficking in order to earn money because by-birth Hijras never beg to anyone.

– prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram, Twitter @Nainamishr94


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A Tale of Resilience and Courage : India’s First Transgender Judge Joyita Mondal

If we tell you about this Lok Adalat judge and her journey- tales of her struggle and battles against her family and the society at large, you would have nothing short of immense respect for her.

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Joyita Mondal
Joyita Mondal is the first transsgender judge in India. Facebook

West Bengal, October 18, 2017: “People almost treated me as an untouchable, and even passed abusive comments. But now people even come to me often requesting me to mediate in family disputes,” said an evidently ecstatic Joyita Mondal Mahi.

If we tell you about this Lok Adalat judge and her journey- tales of her struggle and battles against her family and the society at large, you would have nothing short of immense respect for her.

If we told you about her sexuality next, it may elevate your curiosity a little.

But what if we told you Joyita Mahi Mandal is India’s first transgender judge? Would it make a difference?

Should it make a difference?

From Joyonto to Joyita – Early Life

Joyita, who was born male and given the name Joyonto by her middle-class family, used to play games usually played by girls at the age of 3. Assuming that these interests would soon take the ‘regular route’ towards more boys-oriented activities, family members and parents ignored a young Joyonto’s behavior. However, the change never happened.

According to reports, Joyonto was once scolded for wearing make-up, a behavior unusual for boys to partake; subjected to bullying from classmates for feminine gesticulation, Joyonto was forced to leave school.

Lack of support from the family and school-mates alike forced Joyonto to escape from home in 2009, after which days turned to months, and then years, begging for a livelihood and sleeping on the roads.

As a transgender forced to beg on the streets to a social worker and finally assuming the chair as India’s first transgender judge at the Lok Adalat in Islampur in the North Dinajpur district of Bengal, Joyita’s journey has been extraordinary!

India’s first transgender judge
Joyita Mondal Mahi. Facebook

Challenging the Society

“Transgender” is an umbrella term that describes a wide range of identities, one of them identified as ‘hijras’ – people whose gender identities do not match with their biological sex.

Hijras, a term commonly implied for the transgender community in India, are often looked down upon by the Indian society. They are mocked for their mannerisms, are often made to feel ‘different’, and labeled as suitable only for begging or unskilled work.

Life was no different for Joyonto on the streets.

Now transitioned into Joyita, she demanded nothing less than what she deserved – respect and dignity that every human being deserves, despite their sexual orientation. A struggle that was not easy, her efforts eventually paid off and she crossed several milestones.

Joyita’s Efforts For A Larger Good

According to a report, Joyita established an NGO by the name of ‘Dinajpur Notun Alo Society’ to cater to the transgender community in North Dinajpur district. She had been working on a range of issues related to the transgender community since 2011

It was there that she got in touch with her ‘godfather’ Thanduk Sherpa, Islampur’s Deputy Collector and Magistrate.

Her godfather introduced Joyita to a former additional district judge Subrata Poley, who, impressed by her zeal and enthusiasm to fight against gender bias, recommended Joyita’s name for a judge in the Lok Adalat (civil court).

Finally, Joyita Mahi Mondal was appointed as India’s first transgender judge in Islampur Lok Adalat on July 8 this year

A Lok Adalat comprises of a senior judge, an advocate, and a social worker. Joyita, as a social worker, has assumed the position of a judge. And now enters the premises in a white ambassador- a vehicle categorized for government officials.

Has Joyita Been Subjected To Discrimination At The Adalat?

Joyita’s appointment as India’s first transgender judge was welcomed by friends and supporters from the transgender community who had flooded her Facebook account with congratulatory messages.

Sometimes I can feel negative vibes from those whose cases I adjudicate — strange gaze, or body language. However, I must add that none of them has insulted me. At times, a few are just surprised to see a transgender on the chair of judge.”
– Joyita Mondal, as told to Hindustan Times

However, according to her, the environment in the Adalat is very professional and she has never faced any discrimination. She also added that the fellow judges in the court have also been extremely cooperative and treat her with dignity.

However, India’s first transgender judge is yet to gain acceptance from her family and parents.

The Long Battle Ahead

After the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in 2014 recognizing the third gender under the law that is neither male nor female, attention was brought where it was due – on one of India’s most marginalized groups, transgenders. The ruling redefined their rights and the state’s responsibility to ensure their development and growth.

Things have certainly looked up thereafter for members of the Indian transgender community- whether it was about finding employment in public offices or seeking admissions in National Universities.

However, the battle has not been won completely.

There is limited data on the total estimated population of the transgender community in India, but anecdotal evidence amounts it between a half a million to two million people.

While members of the transgender community have legally gained recognition, the decision is yet to seep down to the root level as they continue to face criticism and alienation from the larger society.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016 aims to ensure greater involvement of the trans people in the medical sector and welfare schemes and programmes, thus allowing for a more inclusive society. The Bill is currently pending approval.

In the words of India’s first transgender judge, ““More time is required for the society to change and we have to give it time.”

 

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10 astonishing facts about ‘Hijras’ or the third gender of India to satisfy your curiosity

The name given to the ceremony when a new Eunuch is born, is Nirvana

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Fact about hijras
Creation of a new Eunuch. Wikimedia

New Delhi, September 25, 2017: Stories centered around hijras, kinners, or Eunuchs are always a matter of curiosity, since we hardly know anything about them except the superficial perception we have or had when we see them. We come across a number of myths, anecdotes about the third gender of India, but you’ll be startled to know certain facts about them that you were never aware of!

Let’s take a look at 10 astonishing facts about hijras, or the third gender of India:

  1. Their origin dates back to the ancient times: Kinners or Hijaras, as they are called, have existed since long. They have been mentioned in the Hindu epic Mahabharata and in Islam where they served in the harems of the Mughals.

Fact about hijras
Origin of hijras. Wikimedia

2. What did they do for living, in older times: Initially, they earned their bread by serving women of wealthy families. They would do their chores and even shopping for them. They also served as the guards of these women.

Fact about hijras
Hijras in older times. Wikimedia

3. Ever wondered how a new Eunuch is created?: The name given to the ceremony when a new Eunuch is born, is Nirvana. The ceremony includes the process of emasculation, in which the penis and testicles of the physiological male is removed. The process, as they say, turns the impotent male, into a potent Eunuch.

Fact about hijras
Creation of a new Eunuch or Hijra. Wikimedia

4. Their cremation is a very private affair: Their cremation is done in the regular way, however, involves very few close people. They are believed to carry out the rituals at night.

Fact about hijras
Cremation of hijras. Wikimedia

Also readIndia becoming more Transgender- Friendly: Read this report

5. They can foretell future: Eunuch gurus are believed to have been blessed with the quality of clairvoyance. They can perceive events in the future. It is also believed that they are even able to foresee their death.

Fact about hijras
Hijras can foretell future. Wikimedia

6. They pray for forgiveness when they happen to foresee their death: They consider their birth as a Eunuch, the result of their sins, that’s why they pray for forgiveness so they are not born as a Eunuch in their next birth.

Hijras
Death among Hijras. Wikimedia

7. Dying Eunuch is considered ‘God-like‘: Other kinners on hearing the news of an Eunuch being on deathbed, come from different places, seeking the blessings of the dying Eunuch.

Fact about hijras
Dying Eunuch is considered ‘God-like’. Wikimedia

8. Hijras worship the Ardhanarishvara form of Lord shiva: The famous Ardhanarishvara form of Shiva, in which half of the God is a woman indicates Shiva as united with his female creative power, shakti. Hijras worship lord Shiva, since they can closely identify themselves with the god.

Fact about hijras
Hijras worship lord Shiva. Wikimedia

9. The annual festival of hijras at Koovagam: Koovagam is a small village located 200 miles south of Madras. It is here that the annual festival of Eunuch takes place. On the occasion of Chitrai Purnima, Kinners experience the ceremony of marriage which is then, followed by widowhood.

Fact about hijras
Annual festival of hijras. Wikimedia

10. The legend of Bahuchara Mata: Bahuchara Mata, an incarnation of Maa Durga, according to the tales, was married to a man who would run into the woods and act like a woman. Angered with this, one day she cursed him to become an Eunuch. They pray Bahuchara Mata for forgiveness so they would be born with a clear gender in their next birth.

Fact about hijras
Hijras pray for forgiveness. Wikimedia

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha

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Women’s sports coverage encounters subtle sexism: Study

It has been found that 95 percent of anchors, co-anchors and analysts, analysing the sports coverage were male

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Women's sports and the surrounding sexism
Women's sports. Pixabay
  • A subtler sexism frames the TV broadcasts of women in sports, according to a recent study
  • L.A.-based network affiliates devote only 3.2 percent of airtime to women’s sports on news broadcasts
  • The researchers have been constant in updating their findings roughly every five years

Washington D.C. [USA], Sep 19, 2017: A recent study stated that a subtler sexism has now made it to the Newsrooms framing the TV broadcast of women in sports.

The ongoing, decades-long study by the University of Southern California researchers suggests, that even if the mainstream broadcast coverage now treats the sports played by women a little more seriously, a major part of it, mostly respectful coverage still has to face the relegation to the sideline.

Only 3.2 percent of airtime, according to the research team, was devoted to women’s sports on news broadcasts, by the L.A.-based network affiliates, witnessing a degradation of 5 percent from 1989, which was the first year of the study. ESPN’s SportsCenter, on the other hand, only stands worse, devoting 2 percent of the airtime to women’s sports, same as it was in 1999 when the study began tracking the show.

“When compared to the start of the study, women used to be framed in ways that were overtly sexist. Now the sexism is subtler,” said lead author Michela Musto. “It seems at first that it’s respectful, but if you compare the framing with men’s sports, women are talked about in a much more boring way. There is no joking or complimenting. Those kinds of descriptors are missing from women’s sports.”

The researchers have been constant in updating their findings roughly every five years, in 1993, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014, to be exact. It has been planned to start the research later this year, for it to be updated in 2018.

The researchers, in a manner similar to the previous cycles of the study, analyzed three two-week segments of TV sports news coverage on three Los Angeles network affiliates, and on ESPN’s SportsCenter. The coverage was then coded across 20 distinct categories, which included gender, segment length, type of sport, competitive level of sport, and production value.

Much of the disparity may owe to the little airtime devoted to each individual woman’s story on SportsCenter. Sports stories revolving around women averaged 77 seconds, approximately 50 percent shorter than men’s stories, however, better than the 44 seconds allotted to them on local affiliates.

The overall respectful coverage may be the advancement from the time when Morganna the Kissing Bandit was one of the few women featured on the local sports report. But the refined tone of this coverage carried a brand of chauvinism, of it own. The researchers gave it the name “gender bland”, a programming that confronts the treatment of a mandatory “set aside.”

In “gender-bland” programming, the athletic achievements of women are depicted as “lackluster” and “uninspired.” That is, unless they approve to the image of caring teammates or partners and spouses, for instance, the 2016 Olympic trap-shooter medalist Corey Cogdell-Unrein’s portrayal in mainstream media as “the wife of a Chicago Bears linebacker.”

Also readWhere Girls and Women are missing out in Sports? Or is it simple Gender Discrimination

A surge of female athletes since the 1970s, when Title IX, which prohibited discrimination based on gender in education for athletics became a law, makes the sparse coverage of women’s sports out of step, the researchers noted.

Around 3.1 million girls participate in high school sports today, compared to 4.4 million boys; in a stark contrast to the situation 45 years ago, when only 294,000 girls played sports in high school, and less than 39,000 played in college.

There are but few women in sports media industry that may play a role in influencing the coverage decisions, noted the researchers. It has been found that 95 percent of anchors, co-anchors and analysts analysing the sports coverage were male. The data shows resemblance to the other findings stating that 90.1 percent of sports print editors happen to be male.

If a woman in the sports broadcast industry happens to scale heights, as the case of Samantha Ponder, a sideline reporter who replaced Chris Berman as host of ESPN’s featured NFL program, Sunday NFL Countdown, this August, it still makes big news.

“I do believe that part of the move toward greater respect and equity for women’s sports in the media will involve getting more women into newspaper sports desks, radio and TV commentary,” said senior author Michael Messner.

“However, I also think that employers, when they hire new people, should seek to hire reporters and commentators — women or men — who really care about women’s sports, who can and will express genuine enthusiasm, rather than gender-bland sexism, when they report on women’s sports,” he added.

The study has been published in the journal Gender & Society.

prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha