ARAWANIS SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY
ARAWANIS SOCIAL WELFARE SOCIETY is one of the CBO (Community Based Organisation) in Mumbai. The organization is a registered NGO (Non Governmental Organisation). Our Organisation members are all Hijras. ASWS has the added benefit of having experienced elderly Hijras to constantly advice and guide the issues of transgender community. Our organization has network existing in Tamil Nadu also.
HISTORY: The hijra of India are a religious community who renounce male sexuality, identify with the creative power of the Mother Goddess and with Shiva. Although they may use male, female, or gender-neutral pronouns for any given individual, they insist that hijra as a group be referred to with feminine pronouns. The traditional occupation of a hijra is a performer. They may have sex with men or become prostitutes.
Hijras or chakkas as we know them in India are the third gender maybe due to thier way of lifestyle or the castration that they undergo to be known as Hijras or Transgender, that means the gender that has been interchanged. The hijra community is a group of interlocking matriarchal, ecumenical, and communal religious, social orders.
GENDER v. SEX
People are assigned a biological sex, but define their own gender.
Sex: Male, Female, Intersexual (transsexual)
Gender: Man, Woman, Eunuchs (Hijras)
A person whose understanding of her/their/his gender identification transcends society's polarized gender system. We believe that the dichotomized system of gender is limiting; therefore, we encourage everyone to think outside and beyond this schema.
Male-to-Third Gender (born in body of male, believe self to be another gender)*
* People who are third gender often prefer "transgender" to "third gender".
Relationships in the Hijra community
Guru- chela relationships:
Every person in the community has a "guru", a term, which has unfortunately become synonymous with "master" in the west, but only means teacher or spiritual guide. The guru, an older, more experienced hijra, is responsible for the welfare of their chela, or student.
Unlike a cult with a single guru, the Hijra community has thousands, each of whom in turn has a guru. About half of all Hijras are someone's guru.
The guru takes responsibility for the welfare of the student, and the student promises loyalty and obedience to the guru.
The other chelas of one's guru are one's guru-brothers. These relationships are the closest thing a hijra has to "nuclear family".
The rank of one's guru determines one's own rank. If I wish to explain who I "am" in the community, I say I'm Radha’s chela, and vani’s guru-bhai.
Most Hijras also have one or more "mothers". Unlike a guru-chela relationship, the "daughter" isn't bound to a specific rule of obedience, but the relationship is one of mentor-mentoree.
I have a large number of daughters. This mother-daughter relationship of the guru and hijra is a fascinating one with a religious and social basis. As mentioned, Hijras identify with Shiva for his devotion to the Mother Goddess (specifically Mata Bahucharaji) and devotion is equivalent to submission. The Goddess, "representing an ambivalence toward the real mother that is perhaps universal," contains both the power to give life and charity, and the power to destroy those who anger her by disobeying. She is angered by the consort who, being her son as well, refuses her "incestuous" advances and thus she must castrate him in violence. After this, she protects the son because he is in ultimate submission to her. The Goddess "will protect the devotee...but only after she has castrated him...She will give him life, but only after she has killed him". The worshippers "anxiety over his inadequacy to fulfill the sexual needs of the mother is resolved by self-castration in order to appease the mother."
Like one can have "mothers", one can have "sisters" - people who are of equal rank, and want to declare to the community that they are close friends and that the community shouldn't come between them.
The Hijras here earn their livelyhood by (Basti) begging, they have areas/locations which are allocated to them as per the Gharanas (familial house to which they owe allegiance) they come on specific days to visit businessmen, shopkeepers, street vendors and general men and women who give them some money.
A Hijra herself takes pride in being, above all else, a ritual performer, sanctioned by the gods to bless families, while eschewing talk of what may be her primary work: prostitution. An outsider, upon first sight of them aggressively attempting to seize a customer on the street, may believe the Hijras to solely be beggars or prostitutes. Others are familiar with the Hijras only as female performers and seemingly self-proclaimed fate-manipulators who arrive in a band to dance and sing and bless, or perform badhai, at weddings and births. Their presence can be thought of as auspicious with regard to their capabilities for manipulating divine energy, or, on the contrary, as loathsome and calamitous with regard to their infertility despite, and as well as what people may see as the threat of their free and overwhelming sexuality. These Hijras have maintained the culture of their community, i.e., Playing Dholak (A musical instrument like a drum) and dancing in their own flamboyant style. These badaiwala Hijras will go to the marriage and birth or opening occasions and ceremony, they will dance by playing Dholak and sing songs entertaining the party. The Indian society believes that it is a auspicious sign/omen to have Hijras in the parties or occasions like marriages, birth ceremony, opening ceremony etc.
Hijras work as commercial sex workers besides doing basti or badhai.
Hijra and HIV
Hijra people have received a great deal of publicity recently but less real understanding. No matter how many talk shows or hit movies feature hijra people, our society still looks at the Hijras experience as "abnormal" or sometimes "sick" and "perverted." For many hijra people this results in secrecy, shame, depression and fear. This leads to increased isolation. It can also lead to compulsive behavior, exploitation, rage, guilt, addiction and even suicide. Much of these difficulties result from the mistaken belief that Hijras experiences and identities are a sickness we can somehow "cure." HIV and AIDS prevention & intervention are also issues for hijra people. Often HIV/AIDS educational materials are not sensitive or relevant to hijra people. This can increase risk for HIV.
In recent years, more people have recognized that hijra people need to accept themselves and adapt their lives to their inner feelings. In order to better accomplish this, we have created community support networks and organizations to end isolation, to heal from internalized shame, to decrease risk for HIV/AIDS and substance abuse, and to enable working together to combat prejudice and discrimination.
ACTIVITIES: The ASWS is garnered to be a highly focused transgendered sexual health agency, we are already conducting eye camps and distribute spectacles and have also undertaken to conduct ENT camps. We are voluntary working on HIV/AIDS for Eunuchs community.
EYE CAMP: To make the eunuchs aware of eye care and get eye check up done.
We have a mobile clinic from N.A.B for every Saturday to do eye camps in
(a) National Association of Blind contacted Radhika Mudhaliyar,
(b) Called for a meeting to discuss about the eye camp. They had to be convinced about the eye checkup.
(c) Every body agreed for the eye camp in our society,
(d) One of us went on that day to each house and got the eunuchs to do the test,
(e) One of us stood at the door of the mobile to send the eunuchs one by one,
(f) One of us sat inside the mobile unit to write the names of the eunuchs who did the testing, who needed spectacles and who needed surgery,
(g) Photographs were taken.
Eye drops were distributed to everybody,
ASWS has already distributed 100 spectacles. We have done Eye testing to 300 eunuchs yet.
This work is till going on.
HIV/AIDS: To create awareness about AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
o A comprehensive system to be developed to assess public health system and STD clinics.
o Increasing the availability of condoms to the transgender and promote usage
o Conducting educational programmes to inform transgenders about safe and sexual practice
§ Quite a lot have started using condoms regularly,
§ They have received information about HIV/AIDS and other sex related disease well
§ They also wanted to know about clinics where they can get medical help.
§ HIV positive patients wanted to get admitted into hospitals
§ Everybody was more than willing to get a blood test done.
Since 9-1-2002 we distributed 23000 condoms in Mumbai metro till 6-4-2002
NEED OF HIJRAS:
The Hijras have three ways to live their life, One is the prostitution second is begging and the third is the Badhai (dancing) so, there is no way to live. Hijras have no children to save them.
There is no reservation in Employment exchange and ltd or private companies also not giving job to them. We have no initial of our gender. (Like Male-‘M’, Female-‘F’. We need ‘E’ for Eunuchs or Tr for Transgenders.)
We have no any help from government like pension for elder Hijras, Hijras need free houses scheme like MHADA.
We have no education centers for Hijras, The education centers also not giving permission to the transgenders to learn education courses. They have no ration cards .The rationing officers are not giving ration cards to Hijras and they asking proof from them.(There is no proof to transgenders because they came out from the family on their childhood, they are not going to family back and the family members also not accepting them. How should they give the proof to them?)
No separate clinics or rows to the transgenders in government hospitals.
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