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Centre asks states to make separate prison wards for transgender persons


LGBT04s

NEW DELHI: Recognising the rights of transgenders, the Centre on Monday asked states to make separate enclosures in jails for transgender inmates to protect them from any form of exploitation. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has also asked states to ensure that transgender inmates should be searched by person of their preferred gender or by a trained medical professional.

In a letter to the chief secretaries of all states, administrators of Union Territories and DGPs, the MHA proposed creation of separate wards for trans-men and trans-women inmates in prisons, while ensuring that this does not isolate them completely or propagate any social stigma.

There should be adequate preservation of the Right to Privacy and Dignity of transgenders in regard to separate toilets and shower facilities for trans-men and trans-women inmates, the ministry said.

The Centre's advisory on treatment and care of transgender persons in prisons is 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  recognition of their preferred gender identity, prohibition against discrimination and access to state-sponsored welfare measures.

The centre asked the authorities in states and UTs to ensure that self-identity of transgender persons is respected at all times in prison - during jail admission process, medical examination, search, lodging, clothing and treatment or care inside prisons.

The MHA also advised 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.

Privacy and dignity of the transgender person being searched should be maintained, including a strip search only in a private space, and the procedure, the MHA stressed, should be limited to honouring security protocols and restriction of contraband, and not intended to determine the person's gender.

The states and UTs were asked to ensure specific health needs of transgender persons with regard to their mental health and gender affirmative processes, over and above the scope of rehabilitation, aftercare, welfare of prisoners.

The MHA said that the transgender inmates should have equal right to healthcare, without any discrimination on grounds of their gender identity. They must be allowed communication with the outside world -- an opportunity to interact with their family members, relatives, friends and legal advisers and after-care planning by probation, welfare or rehabilitation officers.

The home ministry also emphasised on training and sensitisation of prison personnel for developing an understanding of gender identity, human rights, sexual orientation and legal frameworks for transgender persons. The ministry also suggested training of medical officers on the standards of care for transgender persons and transgender person's right to decide their self-identified gender.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)