January 18, 2022

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Create separate wards in jails to ensure safety of transgender inmates: Centre’s suggestion to states

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Create separate wards in jails to ensure safety of transgender inmates: Centre’s suggestion to states
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Create separate wards in jails to ensure safety of transgender inmates: Centre’s suggestion to states
Create separate wards in jails to ensure safety of transgender inmates: Centre’s suggestion to states

NEW DELHI: Sharing suggestions with all the states and Union territories on how to ensure safety of transgenders lodged in jails and their protection from any form of exploitation, the home ministry has proposed creation of a separate enclosure or ward for trans-men and trans-women inmates in prisons, separate from the male and female enclosures, while ensuring that this does not isolate them completely or propagate any social stigma.
In a letter sent to all state chief secretaries, UT administrators and DGPs and IGPs on Monday, the home ministry suggested that there should be adequate preservation of the right of privacy and dignity of transgenders in regard to separate toilets and shower facilities for trans-men and trans-women inmates.
The suggestions on treatment and care of transgender persons in prisons are aimed at bringing the infrastructure in jails and correctional facilities in line with provisions of The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, and the rules framed thereunder. The Act guarantees transgenders – whose gender does not match the gender assigned to them at birth, persons with intersex variations or persons having socio-cultural identities such as ‘kinnar’, ‘hijra’ etc – a recognition of their preferred gender identity, prohibition against discrimination and access to state-sponsored welfare measures.
Asking for self-identity of transgender persons to be respected in regard to jail admission procedures, medical examination, search, lodging, clothing and treatment or care inside prisons, the MHA suggested that the prison department of the respective states/UTs facilitate the process of acquiring of transgender identity certificate if such a request is received, by registering them on the online national portal for transgender persons.
Not only transgender identity option must be included in the prison admission register and the electronic prison management system, but the home ministry suggested that a transgender inmate be searched only by a person of their preferred gender or by a trained medical professional. Privacy and dignity of the transgender person being searched should be maintained, including a strip search only in a private space, and the procedure should be limited to honouring security protocols and restriction of contraband, and not aimed at determining the person’s gender.
MHA said the transgender inmates should have equal right to healthcare, without any discrimination on grounds of their gender identity. Such prisoners, it added, must be allowed an opportunity to interact with their family members, relatives, friends and legal advisers and after-care planning by probation, welfare or rehabilitation officers.
Importantly, the home ministry has sought training and sensitisation of prison personnel for developing an understanding of gender identity, gender dysphoria, human rights, sexual orientation and legal frameworks for transgender persons. Similar awareness must also be spread among other prisoners, it suggested.

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