On Jan 23, 2016 Reuters reported: On Nov. 27, 2016, four transgender individuals were arrested and sent to Bengaluru Central Prison, accused of abduction and attempted murder, among other things. One, Ishu, had undergone breast augmentation surgery in October 2016, and developed an infection in her silicone implants while she was in jail.
Ishu, who was 19 at the time of her arrest, according to a police document, told the prison medical officer, but received only generic painkillers for a few days.
Prison officials finally sent her to an outside hospital for treatment, but only after lawyers for the Centre for Law and Policy Research, who advocate on behalf of transgender inmates, intervened.
“It was a great lapse in medical treatment. It stemmed from two reasons – general apathy and disregard for the well-being of transgenders, and more importantly lack of preparedness of medical officers within prison to deal with such cases,” said lawyer Ramya Jawahar Kudekallu of the Alternate Law Forum.
Ishu’s case highlights one underexplored area of how India treats transgender people: what happens when they run afoul of the law and are sent to jail?
At present, there are six transgender undertrials (persons on trial in a court of law) lodged in the prison at Parappana Agrahara, Bengaluru. The prison declined to make any of them available for comment.
Last year, the Karnataka government created separate cells for transgender inmates at the prison. “We do not have separate barracks for transgenders. But, we house them separately within the women and male wards,” said prison superintendent Dr Anitha.
Once transgender individuals are brought to prison, they are sent to the chief medical officer. If they have female genitals, they are classified as women. So it goes for those with male genitals.
This goes against a Supreme Court 2014 judgment that said “the gender to which a person belongs is to be determined by the person concerned”.