Persecution Alert

Court case to be filed as transgender prison inmates in Bengaluru face abuse, harassment and neglect

25 January 2017

On Nov. 27, 2016, four transgender individuals were arrested and sent to Bengaluru Central Prison, accused of abduction and attempted murder, among other things. One, Ishu, had undergone breast augmentation surgery in October 2016, and developed an infection in her silicone implants while she was in jail.

Ishu, who was 19 at the time of her arrest, according to a police document, told the prison medical officer, but received only generic painkillers for a few days.

Prison officials finally sent her to an outside hospital for treatment, but only after lawyers for the Centre for Law and Policy Research, who advocate on behalf of transgender inmates, intervened.

"It was a great lapse in medical treatment. It stemmed from two reasons - general apathy and disregard for the well-being of transgenders, and more importantly lack of preparedness of medical officers within prison to deal with such cases," said lawyer Ramya Jawahar Kudekallu of the Alternate Law Forum.

At present, there are six transgender undertrials (persons on trial in a court of law) lodged in the prison at Parappana Agrahara, Bengaluru. The prison declined to make any of them available for comment.

The Centre for Law and Policy Research (CLPR) in Bengaluru is preparing to file a lawsuit on transgender health for inmates.

"It is a thoroughly neglected area and one that results in a lot of abuse and harassment," said CLPR lawyer Jayna Kothari. She said the group successfully challenged Section 36-A of the Karnataka Police Act, which allowed the police to keep a transgender registry that legitimised criminalisation of transgenders as a group.

Advocates say it's not just in Bengaluru where transgender inmates face assault and bullying, but in prisons and jails in other parts of the country as well. "After Ishu's case, we realized that healthcare within prison is abysmal and needs to be changed," Kothari said.



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