MUMBAI, May 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Transgender
women, who often resort to dancing at weddings or begging on
trains and streets for a living, are being hired by a city metro
system in southern India, in a first for a government agency as
the community gains rights and visibility.
Kochi Metro Rail in the coastal state of Kerala has hired 23
transgender women for ticketing, housekeeping and customer care
in stations, a spokeswoman said, adding that a total of 60 jobs
will be reserved for transgender people.
"We had seen how they struggle for work and wanted to give
some of them an opportunity to make a decent living," said
Rashmi CR, a spokeswoman for Kochi Metro Rail.
"We expect that people will be accepting of them, and that
other companies will also come forward to employ them."
While India's 2 million transgender people have recently
been accorded basic civil rights, most still face discrimination
from a young age.
In a landmark judgment in 2014, the Supreme Court ruled
transgender people had equal rights under the law, and granted
legal status to the third gender.
They were given the right to marry and inherit property, and
became eligible for quotas in jobs and educational institutions.
But abuse and exploitation are widespread. Often thrown out
of home by their families, many lack formal education and are
denied jobs, and forced into sex work, begging, or dancing at
weddings to make ends meet.
In Kochi, a port city on India's southwestern coast, an
attack on transgender women last year sparked a conversation
between city officials and the transgender community about
challenges they face, Rashmi said. Jobs were a key concern.
Kudumbashree, a women's community organisation in Kerala, is
helping to identify and screen transgender women for various
jobs at Kochi Metro Rail. The women are being trained for their
"They are as much a part of our society as you and I, yet
they have been marginalised and alienated for so long," said
Dilraj KR, a project manager at Kudumbashree. "We hope that with
proper jobs, they will be more accepted and respected."
(Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, editing by Alisa
Tang. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian
news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate
change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org to see more