MUMBAI : Neerja Punia, a transgender woman and activist, who was the first transwoman contestant ever on a show (Roadies), had a “horrific” experience of “harassment” on the night of the 6th November.
“Shri Ram Dhaba is supposed to be my go-to place. It’s where I seek solace and enjoy my chai. However, on that night, the manager stopped me from entering. He said, ‘Neerja come out, sir (the owner) wants to talk to you’. I asked them what this was about and the owner’s wording was, ‘Aap yahan aakar dhande mat chalaao, aur yahan aana band kardo’. It has been a while since I am going there and I am a person who sits in a corner just to have my tea,” she recalls the incident.
Highlighting his obstructive behavior further, Punia tells us, “The owner assumed I was engaged in sex work, a misconception that is not only problematic but deeply hurtful.”
Despite her attempts to reason and clarify, “he just kept saying ‘Jaao jaao yahan se’, and leaning me towards the door, started harassing me in a way. It is really sad. I told him that I am a frequent visitor and I get respect everywhere for who I am or for the work I do, and this is the treatment you are giving me. Assassinating my character and considering me as a sex worker. Every worker who knows me there didn’t say anything against him because it would have cost their jobs.”
“His actions triggered a panic attack, leaving me deeply affected. The degrading treatment solely based on my gender identity has severely impacted my mental health,” she shares.
“The stereotype that a trans woman getting ready and going out is automatically associated with sex work or beggary is so sad. Despite my education and fame, the treatment was horrific. I fear for those in our community without such privileges, yeh unka kya haal karte honge. I can’t even take any legal action against him because there is no proof, and he has many police and political connections to get away with it,” Punia adds.
Emphasising the necessity for societal awareness and education, she remarks, “There is an urgent need for ground-level awareness about the transgender community. Regardless of the industry’s progress in acceptance, on-the-ground change is needed.”
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Credits - Hindustan Times