Reshma Prasad, Bihar’s best known transgender activist, has mooted a proposal that TGs be deployed as security guards in Observation and Special homes run under the JJ Act. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar went on to ask officials to figure out if transgender persons (read transwomen) could serve as security guards at remand homes, short stay homes and similar facilities for women and girls across Bihar.
The move comes after cases of rape and molestation, in which security personnel and wardens were also involved, surfaced at such shelters – many of them run by NGOs or civil society organisations – across the state. The implication is that TGs are ‘incapable’ of rape.
The chief minister’s directions came after social welfare department (SWD) principal secretary Atul Prasad discussed the proposal during the CM’s Lok Samvad (public interaction) programme at his 1 Aney Marg official residence.
While on the subject, the Chief Minister also asked officials to initiate a survey of the transgender population in the state so that the government can know about their numbers and initiate welfare projects for them. The survey is long pending. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2008 estimated Bihar’s transgender population to be around 40,000.
The proposal came up for discussion at the Lok Samvad when Reshma Prasad, who self-identifies as transwoman, came up with development proposals for the community, including a scheme to manufacture menstruation cups (menstrual cups), made of silicone rubber and popular in developed countries.
At present, the Bihar government provides free sanitary napkins to adolescent schoolgirls at around Rs 300 per girl per year. On the other hand, one menstruation cup could be used for up to five years, and is considered more hygienic than sanitary napkins. Used sanitary napkins are a waste management nightmare, some say.
The chief minister appeared intrigues and has asked officials to find out more about menstrual cups. “My concern is to see whether it is suitable, climatically and physically, for our state,” Nitish said.