Giving the Kinnar Community the voice they deserve
Called the third gender, evidence for their existence in Hindu society can be found in Hindu holy texts like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and in the history of South Asia.
While hijras have been treated with both fear and respect for thousands of years, much of this respect did not survive Hinduism’s encounter with colonialism. The British colonized most of South Asia in the 19th and 20th centuries and were shocked by third-gender people. Based on Christian beliefs about gender at the time, the British named all hijras criminals in 1871 and instructed colonial authorities to arrest them on sight. However, because of their important religious functions for Hindus, hijras persisted without significant interruption. Still, nearly 200 years of stigmatization by the British eventually took a toll.
As a result, they are often stricken by poverty and forced to resort to begging and prostitution to survive. They are often victims of violence and abuse, harassed by police and refused treatment at hospitals.
Art Director: Nidhi Khanna, Pallavi