The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has released an advisory to create exclusive spaces for transwomen and transmen inmates in prisons. This advisory came in the light of providing them with their right to privacy and dignity.
In a written advisory to all the states and Union Territories, MHA said prison authorities must respect the self-identity of a person as transgender under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019. The identity must be respected at all times during the admission process, search, medical examination, lodging, clothing, treatment and care, states the Union ministry.
This is a welcome step to work on issues including gender dysphoria, sexual orientation and legal aid for transgenders.
“Due care may be taken by the prison authorities that this [separate facilities] may not result in their complete isolation or propagate social stigma among such prisoners. There should be adequate preservation of right to privacy and dignity in regard to separate toilets for transmen and transwomen as well as shower facilities,” said the advisory.
The Centre has further directed to conduct searches of transgender inmates only by trained medical professionals or persons of their preferred gender.
Why Transgenders Need Separate Jail Wards ?
As per the MHA advisory, the aim of this step is to remove any form of exploitation of transgender inmates in prison. The advisory rules out that if the self-identified gender is not mentioned in the court warrant or there is a dispute of gender, the prison authority must assist the person in filing an application for changing gender identity.
The step has been taken by Centre to ensure that the prison and correctional facility infrastructure is maintained in line with the provisions of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019. This is to ensure safety and protection to transmen and transwomen inside the premises and allow them to practice their complete right to privacy and dignity.
This advisory needs appreciation and applause. This will work towards bringing a change in approach towards transgender society. It will protect transgender inmates from facing humiliation and trauma within the prison. Such steps will ensure them their complete right to privacy, dignity and equality. Along with this, we need proper training modules to tackle the sensitive issue. In addition, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment with the Human Rights Commission can also help in setting training modules across states.