SC judgment on eunuchs is good but let castration not become destiny!

The recent Supreme Court judgment on eunuchs is welcome for two reasons. First, it recognizes the genuine human rights of “Hijras” (or Kinnars) and the right to be counted as neither male nor female but as Third Gender. They have been recognised as a category of deprived people who need special favours like the OBCs. Second, that the SC has taken care to separate them from other categories of transgenders and has clarified that it does not include endorsement of homosexuality. What is, however, missing is the recognition that the overwhelming majority of eunuchs are created not by God but by humans. Most of them are kidnapped in their young age and are subjected to surgical removal of their male organs and are forced to live as eunuchs for the rest of their lives. A study conducted on Eunuchs entitled “Eunuchs of India - Deprived of Human Rights” by Shoma A. Chatterji says:

 “In 1990, Dr. B.V. Subramaniam of the Surat Medical College wrote a paper based on his research on the making of a eunuch. The study reported that most eunuchs in India were the result of forced castration. The method adopted for the surgery is crude, unscientific, threatening to the health of the patient and done in the most unhygienic conditions. The genitals of a normally born male baby are slashed off with a knife dipped in boiling oil. After dressing the wound, a nail with a string attached is tied to the waist and drilled into the stump, which would, with medication and time, begin to look somewhat like a female crotch.

In cases of castration, Subramaniam’s paper says that breasts develop because the seat of the male hormones - testicles - has been removed. When the female hormones take over, the growth of secondary sexual characteristics, such as growth of facial hair, is restricted. So, also the regular change in voice. Castrated or not, eunuchs are sexually active. As they cannot form intimate relations within the parameters of either acceptable or aberrant behaviour due to lack of takers, they take to prostitution. Because of their indiscriminate sexual lives, Subramaniam warns that they are possible carriers of the HIV virus. Gully No. 1 of Shuklaji Street, a notorious red light area of Mumbai, is an almost exclusively eunuch preserve.”

Not only eunuchs are artificially created, most of them join prostitution. The report says:

“In a sudden police raid on a Bhandup (a Mumbai suburb) brothel more than 15 years ago, many of the prostitutes were eunuchs. When rounded up and taken to the local police station, they were found to have deep gashes, cigarettes stubbed on their arms, scars of regular beatings and lashings. The police too, are no less. All eunuchs must pay hafta to the police or risk being beaten up. They are rarely employed in regular jobs, though many would like to lead normal lives. They fight among themselves for clothes and money when the time to share the booty comes. They have no grudge against normal human beings because they accept their sexual identity as ‘destiny’, which, as we all know, is not quite true. How can castration be destiny?”

How can castration be destiny? How pertinent a question! How mind baffling! How painful! But no one - in the government or the courts - has tried to stop the destiny of castration. While giving hijras their human rights, opportunities for good education, jobs and comfortable living are what the existing Hijras deserve without bias, what needs to be ensured with greater vehemence is that no more eunuchs are created.   According to surveys carried out by Salvation Of Oppressed Eunuchs (SOOE), the number of eunuchs in India is around 1.9 million (Eunuch Statistics in India - Dr. Piyush Saxena). The natural justice does not merely demand good life for existing eunuchs but also total and effective ban on the creation of eunuchs and rigorous punishment to those involved in the trade. Furthermore, strict action is also to be taken against those who pose as eunuchs for money and those who are engaged in prostitution have to be removed from the trade and rehabilitated.

 Let India take lead in not allowing castration to become destiny!

  Dr Javed Jamil is a thinker and writer with over a dozen books including his latest, “Muslims Most Civilised, Yet Not Enough” and “Muslim Vision of Secular India: Destination & Road-map”. Other works include “The Devil of Economic Fundamentalism”, “The Essence of the Divine Verses”, “The Killer Sex”, “Islam means Peace” and “Rediscovering the Universe”. He can be contacted at

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2014 on page no. 2

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