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Semantee Chattopadhyay
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Violence, misgendering, medical negligence and routine denial of legal aid is what marked the experience of transgender inmates in prisons across India. Those who come from marginalised groups social or sexual are routinely denied even their fundamental rights. A report by the Wire attracts how vulnerable one such group the transgender community is in India’s prisons. The report says that many trans women were forced into male presence when they faced physical and sexual violence. In the testimonies recorded trans prisoners said that their complaints are routinely overlooked by prison authorities so also their medical needs. In 2014, the Supreme court of India in the national legal services authority nalsa vs Union of India judgement granted legal recognition to trans persons gender identity male-female or as the third gender. Several other treatments have also a transgender people’s right to decide their self-identified standard but such judgements haven’t yet been translated into action for transgender prisoners who are regularly misgendered, i.e attributed the gender which they do not identify.
The transgender person’s protection rights act passed in 2019 creates trouble for transgender prisoners. Hitman dates for legal gender recognition and requires an individual to apply for a transgender certificate. In this backdrop, a transgender person who enters prison without this certificate is at the mercy of the prison authorities and doctors to recognise and certify them based on their genitals. Despite article 39 (A) ab the Indian Constitution providing for free legal aid to the poor and weaker sections of the society, transfer prisoners find it difficult to secure aid. Legal representation for trans prisoners makes securing bail difficult. What makes any redressal of these issues difficult is the lack of data on transgender prisoners. Prison statistics published by the NCRB are inadequate. They only record data along a narrow male-female binary, transgender people are not counted separately. There is no uniformity or any one method used to record the data of transgender people in prisons. Some States updated measures to uphold the rights of trans prison.