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Home Ministry releases advisory to ensure safety and rights of Transpeople in prisons

Appropriate arrangements for accommodation suitable to their gender identity will be made in the prisons. The advisory asks to maintain separate wards for transmen and transwomen which shall be separate from Male and Female enclosures.

With a view to safeguarding the safety and treatment of Transgender people in prisons, The Ministry of Home Affairs on January 10, has released an advisory on behalf of the Women safety Division. Titled ‘Treatment and Care of Transgender persons in Prisons’, the advisory asks all states and UTs to ensure the right to identity, access to healthcare and safety and special infrastructure to Transpersons in jail.

The exercise is in accordance with the ‘The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act’ enacted by the Government of India in 2019.

Keeping with a view to ensuring dignity to Transgenders and protecting them against any form of discrimination, the advisory specifies procedures to deal with Transmen and Transwomen while ensuring their right to self-determination. According to the annexure, a Transperson will have the right to determine their own identity which shall be recognised under the act passed in 2019.

Appropriate arrangements for accommodation suitable to their gender identity will be made in the prisons. The advisory asks to maintain separate wards for transmen and transwomen which shall be separate from Male and Female enclosures. While doing this, the prison authorities shall take care that this does not lead to the complete isolation of transpeople amongst their other inmates. To respect the right to privacy and dignity, separate toilets and shower facilities for Transmen and Transwomen should be provided, according to the MHA guidelines.

Besides this, The prison department shall make sure that the self-identity of Transpeople is respected during medical examinations, search, lodging and clothing and during day-to-day activities. The Home Ministry has noted that all Prison admission registers should be suitably revised to include the ‘Transgender’ category besides male and female genders. The search of a Transgender, if it requires stripping, shall be conducted by a person of their preferred gender in a private room or partition.

The Transpersons should enjoy the same facilities and rights as given to other inmates including access to healthcare services, meeting family members, provisions for applying for bails, etc. The Ministry of Home Affairs has further advised that the training modules for Prison authorities may be devised in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, prison training institutes, state health department, human rights commission, Legal Services Authorities and with representatives from transgender communities, etc. for developing an understanding of gender identity and dysphoria, human rights, sexual orientation and legal frameworks for transgenders.

Signed by the deputy secretary to the Government of India Arun Sobti, the advisory aims to sensitize prison officials for the protection of rights and welfare of the transgender community in jails.

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