Rape is not just a problem of the women…’ read a placard at the Midnight March in Hyderabad that started from Marriott Hotel at 10 pm and ended at the Lumbini Park at 1 am. Several queer groups joined hands with the protesting women, not just demanding safety for the fairer sex, but also for themselves.
With the entire nation expressing their outrage over the Delhi gang rape, and various protesting groups demanding protection and rights for women, queer groups have joined them in an attempt to make themselves heard. Hundreds of them were seen participating in the three-hour long walk, holding placards, shouting slogans and demanding a basic right — equality for all.
“If women can’t be safe in this country, how can one from the queer community, one who is not even given the basic right to call himself a man or a woman, be safe?” argues G Krishna, founder of Suraksha, a queer community. “We don’t have a single report of sexual violence filed in any police station in the city, not because there have been no cases, but because the cops have refused us the right to file a report. In 2012 alone, we have had 62 cases of rape in our community in Andhra Pradesh,” he reveals.
Talking about instances of sexual assault and why they go unreported, another member of a queer group, on conditions of anonymity, says, “I was sexually assaulted, but when I went to file a complaint with the police, I was laughed at. They asked me, ‘How can you be raped? Are you a woman?’ I was the victim, but I was made to feel like the criminal. When compared to us, women can still walk into a police station to file a complaint. Even the queer community needs to be given the same right to file a case in the case of sexual assault. We are fighting for the right and society needs to understand that as human beings even we undergo the same emotions and pain as women do when they are assaulted.”
The Hyderabad queer community is already fighting for decriminalisation of homosexuality. Till that is done, they fear that the harassment is not going to end. “We face harassment from men, police, netas and goons alike. Just because we dress differently, or look different, they think they have a right to assault us. Just recently, a transgender was beaten up at the Begumpet bus stop in Hyderabad by six men. After beating him up, they told him, ‘Go tell your community to behave like men, or this is what will happen to you.’ When we go to cops, they tell us to shut up,” says Krishna.
A victim of sexual assault himself, Vishal Jaiswal, vice-president of Wajood, an LGBT community, says, “The incident took place when I was in college. I feared going to the cops because I knew I wouldn’t be heard anyways. There are so many people I personally know of, who have been raped and sexually assaulted, but none has found the needed support to voice it. Hence, we thought it best to take part in this march to demand equality for all, irrespective of their gender.”