India: Rape and Police Abuse of Hijra in Bangalore; Call for Action by SANGAMA

SUMMARY

Kokila is a 21-year-old hijra (member of a traditional male-to-female transsexual community in South Asia) living in Bangalore City. On 18 June 2004, she was raped by several men. However, when Kokila attempted to seek redress by the police, she was arrested, verbally harassed and tortured. Her gender identity was ridiculed and she was forced to remain naked for many hours. Please join SANGAMA in protesting the brutal and humiliating rape and torture of transgender person Kokila in Bangalore, India and the discrimination to which she was subject. Join SANGAMA in demanding an immediate response to police abuse against transgender people in Bangalore, India, thorough and impartial investigations of all reported incidences of police abuse against these groups, and sensitivity trainings for police regarding issues of sexual orientation and expression and gender identity and expression. With local coalitions, SANGAMA furthermore demands

  1. Byappanahalli Police personnel (including Ashwat Narayana - PI, Krishanappa - SI, Ramakrishna - Constable and Roshan Ali Khan - Constable) involved in torture immediately be arrested and sent to judicial custody
  2. Byappanahalli Police personnel should be charged for offenses under IPC Sections 330 (voluntarily causing hurt to extort confession or to compel restoration of property), 342 (wrongful confinement), 348 (wrongful confinement to extort confession, or compel restoration of property), 456 (lurking house trespass or house breaking by night) and 461 (dishonestly breaking open receptacle containing property) read with IPC 34
  3. CBI should conduct an impartial enquiry in to the incidents
  4. Hijras should be declared as women
  5. Repeal Section 377 of the IPC and ITPA [Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act], which criminalize sexuality minorities and sex-workers respectively

IGLHRC supports SANGAMA in asking for urgent letters of concern demanding a full and impartial investigation of the torture and humiliation of Kokila to be sent to the following persons:

Mr. Dharam Singh,
Honorable Chief Minister of Karnataka
Justice A. S. Anand,
Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission
Dr. Poornima Advani,
Chairperson of National Commission for Women
Shri T. Madiyal,
Director General and Inspector General of Police, Karnataka
Shri S. Mariswamy,
Commissioner of Police, Bangalore City
Chairperson,
National Human Rights Commission

To the following email addresses: cm@kar.nic.in, chairnhrc@nic.in, member_secretary@ncw-india.org, dgpks@bgl.vsnl.net.in, copblore@rediffmail.com Please send copies of correspondence to SANGAMA: E-mail: sangama@sangamaonline.org

Contact SANGAMA:

MODEL LETTER

Dear Madam/Sir We are shocked to hear of the brutal torture suffered by Kokila, a Hijra, on 18th June 2004, at the hands of policemen of Byappanahalli Police Station, Bangalore, India. The police took her into custody when she was being raped that night by ten goondas near Old Madras Road. Instead of providing support and relief to her, they carried on the brutal assault at the Police Station. This is not a stray incident but is part of ongoing police violence against hijras. The level of violence has increased after hijras and other sexuality minorities started protesting against police brutality. The police are used to treating hijras as outcasts with no rights. The police think that no hijra would dare to stand up to them. Police routinely use hijras by falsely implicating them in crimes. The vicious anger with which the police have reacted to the hijras protesting against their torture is frightening. We demand that the policemen implicated, Ashwat Narayana (PI), Krishanappa (SI), Ramakrishna (Constable) and Roshan Ali Khan (Constable) be immediately arrested and sent to judicial custody. We also demand an impartial CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) enquiry into the whole incidence. Only such strong measures will send the message down that human rights violations will not be tolerated any longer. We reiterate that notions of different rights for different sets of people, and discrimination by the police against hijras and various other minority groups/communities can have no place in a civilized democracy that India claim to be. Sincerely [Name, organization, address]

BACKGROUND PROVIDED BY SANGAMA

Kokila, a 21-year-old hijra (member of a traditional male-to-female transsexual community in South Asia), has been living in Bangalore City for the last 5 years. She survives by doing sex-work, the only option available to most hijras. On 18th June, 2004 (Friday), around 8 p.m., while she was waiting for clients, she was raped by 10 goondas (all male) who forcefully took her to the grounds next to Old Madras Road. They threatened to kill her if she wouldn't have sex with them. She was forced to have oral and anal sex with all of them. While she was being sexually assaulted, two policemen arrived. Most of the goondas ran away from the scene but the police caught two. Kokila told the police about the sexual assault by the goondas. Instead of registering a case against the goondas and sending Kokila for medical examination, they harassed her with offensive language and took her along with the two captured goondas to the Byappanahalli Police Station. The police disallowed Kokila to put-on her trousers and forced her to be naked for the next 7 hours. In the Police Station Kokila was subjected to brutal torture. They took her to a room inside the Police Station, stripped her naked and handcuffed her hands to a window. Six policemen, allegedly drunk, hit her with lathis and their hands and kicked her with their boots. They abused her using sexually violent language, including the statements: "ninna ammane keyya" (we will fuck your mother), "ninna akkane keyya" (we will fuck your sister), "khoja" (derogatory word used against transgenders) and "gandu" (one who gets penetrated anally, a derogatory word). She suffered severe injuries on her hands, palms, buttocks, shoulder and legs. The police also burned her nipples and chapdi (vaginal portion of hijras) with a burning coir rope. One policeman of the rank of SI (Sub Inspector of Police) positioned his rifle on her chapdi and threatened to shoot her. He also tried pushing the rifle butt and lathi into the chapdi and saying, "Do you have a vagina, can this go inside?" while other policemen were laughing. This is to humiliate a transsexual woman by insisting that she is not a woman, as she was not born with a vagina. At around 11 p.m. PI (Inspector of Police, highest-ranking Police Official of that Police Station) arrived into the room. He directed the policemen to continue the torture. The torture continued till 1 a.m. in the night. Despite begging for water she was not given any water. The police tied her up and the Inspector of Police threatened to leave her on the railway track unless she confessed to the knowledge of the robbery of a diamond ring and a bracelet. They paid no attention to her pleading that she had no knowledge of the robbery, or the person they were trying to get to implicate in the robbery. At 1 a.m., four policemen (including PI and SI) dragged Kokila into a police jeep and took her to a hamam (bathhouse run by hijras) in Krishnarajapuram area. They physically abused her and forced her to knock on the hamam door and call the hijras living there to open the door. At around 2 a.m., they took her to another hamam in Garudacharapalya area. They broke open the lock of that hamam. They forced her to wear male clothes (shirt and trouser). They tied a towel to her head and threatened to shave off her hair. Police also searched both the hamams illegally. At around 3 a.m., while on the way, Kokila begged the Police to take her to the house of Chandini (a hijra human rights activist) who lived nearby. The police entered Chandini's house forcefully and searched the entire house despite severe protests by Chandini. Chandini told the policemen that they couldn't enter her house at such hours and without any valid reason and her consent. When she protested, the police threatened her and her husband with dire consequences. Finally, on Chandani's demand that Kokila be left behind, and her assurance that she would bring Kokila to the Police Station in the morning if her presence were required, the police left her residence at 3.30 am. Kokila's complaint was registered in Ulsoor Police Station on 19th June 2004. The complaint was registered only after legal intervention and after putting a lot of pressure on various high-ranking Police Officials of Bangalore City for three hours. The IPC (Indian Penal Code) Sections in the FIR (First Information Report) are 506 (criminal intimidation - threat to cause death or grievous hurt), 377 (unnatural sexual intercourse), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention). Kokila has already identified four policemen who tortured her. She has also identified five goondas, who sexually assaulted her. These are not stray incidents but are part of ongoing police violence against hijras. The level of violence has increased after hijras; other sexuality minorities and sex-workers started protesting against police brutality.