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Transgender woman harassed and beaten up for selling biryani; shares video

Thursday, October 15, 2020 • Tamil Comments
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A trans woman in Kerala's Ernakulam was reportedly beaten and humiliated by locals and other vendors in the area, who prevented her from selling biryani, while the police had allegedly refused to act on her complaints. Sajana Shaji tearfully talked about the harassment she has been facing over the past couple of weeks, in a video posted on Facebook.

Sajana informed a news agency that her biryani sale, which was launched over three months ago, was doing good business initially and was also the only source of income for four other people, including three trans women and one trans man. However, a group of local street food vendors had begun spreading rumours about their quality of food and also allegedly discriminated against them. This apparently led to a loss in Sajana's business and the team could barely sell 20 packets of biryani a day, even though they used to sell 300 packets of biryani at one point. "Look at the amount of food that has gone to waste. People keep asking us to work and live a decent life, instead of begging on trains and roaming the streets at night. But if the society does not allow us to work respectfully, then what are we supposed to do," Sajana tells in the video.

Speaking about police inaction, Sajana added, "We asked the police to come to the place and intervene. They said they cannot come now and that they would come in the evening. When we asked what we were to do with the wasted biriyani, the Sub Inspector of the station callously told us to do whatever we wanted with it. We used up all our savings including the money I had set aside for my surgery to start this biriyani business. I kept thinking that earning a living was more important and that surgery came later. But now I have no means to continue the business. My associate Theertha, a transwoman who had just undergone surgery was touched inappropriately. He used a lot of sexist slurs against us when we confronted him."

Fortunately, support poured in for Sajana and her friends after her video, which was re-shared by several celebrities, went viral on social media. Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja reached out to Sajana as well. In a post on Twitter, the minister had written, "Spoke to Sajana, transgender person who was attacked by anti-social elements yesterday. Sajana earns her living by selling biryani by the roadside in Ernakulam. Assured that necessary assistance and security will be provided. Action will be taken against the perpetrators who insulted Sajana and her friends. The government will ensure safe space to work and live with dignity for transgender persons."


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