Only 7 states, 2 UTs record transgender prisoners separately from male/ female binary categorisation: Report

Prison in India (representative image). Photo: Shaheen Abdulla/Maktoob

Out of all states and Union Territories in India, only 9 had recorded the data of transgender prisoners separately from the male/ female binary categorisation, according to a new report by the rights group Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).

The report ‘Lost Identity: Transgender Persons in Indian Prisons’, sheds light on challenges faced by Transgender persons in Indian jails.

“Out of the 28 states and six union territories that responded to this particular question, only nine of them (Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Puducherry) stated that the data of Transgender inmates was being recorded apart from male and female,” reads the report.

A total of 214 transgender persons were incarcerated in different prisons across India In the period between May 2018 and April 2019.

Uttar Pradesh and Telangana reported the highest number with 47 and 40 transgender inmates respectively.

“With no proper mechanism or uniformity in the maintenance of data regarding transgender persons, it is highly likely that this figure might be skewed, and actual numbers might be higher,” the report pointed.

It also said the recognition of a ‘third gender’ and respecting ‘self-identification’ are mandatory requisites which prison administrations must adhere to.

Inclusion of a policy to record information on transgender prisoners separately is a positive affirmation of transgender persons right to self-identification, the rights group suggested to the government authorities.

CHRI also sais it will also enable documentation of transgender prisoner cases, which are essential to understand impact of criminalisation and incarceration on such prisoners, as well as help understand special needs of transgender prisoners.

The central government may formulate a model policy on ascertaining special needs of transgender persons in prisons, and outline guidance on documentation, search procedures, placement, medical facilities and recreational/welfare/educational activities within prisons, the report urged to Ministry of Home Affairs.

It further said to the central government to direct the National Crime Records Bureau to include data on persons belonging to transgender persons in their annual statistics on prisons and crime i.e. Prison Statistics India and Crimes in India.

While urging to state governments and home departments, the report said they should make available the facility for inmates to self-identify as transgender and facilitate the process of acquiring the transgender certificate as per section 5 of the Transgender Persons’ (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 from the District Magistrate, if such a request is made by the person concerned.