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Harassment and violence after the reinstatement of India’s “sodomy law” Shruta Mengle (The Humsafar Trust, Mumbai) Sonal Giani (The Humsafar Trust, Mumbai)

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Presentation on theme: "Harassment and violence after the reinstatement of India’s “sodomy law” Shruta Mengle (The Humsafar Trust, Mumbai) Sonal Giani (The Humsafar Trust, Mumbai)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Harassment and violence after the reinstatement of India’s “sodomy law” Shruta Mengle (The Humsafar Trust, Mumbai) Sonal Giani (The Humsafar Trust, Mumbai) Pallav Patankar (The Humsafar Trust, Mumbai) Dr. Ashabanu Soletti (Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai) Dr. Simon Rosser (University of Minnesota School of Public Health) Dr. Michael Wilkerson (University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston)

2 B ACKGROUND The Delhi High Court read down Sec 377 on 2nd July 2009 thereby decriminalizing non peno-vaginal sex between two consenting adults On 11th December 2013, the Supreme Court of India recriminalized consensual anal sex under Sec 377 (India’s “sodomy laws”), thereby revoking the landmark Delhi High Court Judgement Recriminalization could lead to increased cases of violence and harassment of men who have sex with men and transgender/hijras (MTH). It is crucial to reach out to this population with regard to both their sexual health and general well-being as the current situation in India will contribute to further invisibility and vulnerability of the MTH communities

3 W HAT F OLLOWED WAS...

4 R ATIONALE AND M ETHODS The internet and advent of smart phones made the world a smaller place but has also increased avenues for seeking sex partners for the MSM community in India. Such population are often hard to reach as they do not access physical cruising sites primarily catered to by outreach under current HIV interventions. The ISHKonnect Study was a study implemented by The University of Texas, University of Minnesota, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and The Humsafar Trust to understand sexual risk behaviours of MTH who use internet and mobile applications to seek MTH sex partner/s Duration: June No. Surveyed: 342

5 M ETHODS 342 MTH living in Maharashtra September 2013 to May 2014 completed an online survey that included questions about violence and harassment from online/offline sex partners; descriptive statistics were calculated. The survey was advertised online and groups on sites such as Facebook and PlanetRomeo. To protect confidentiality of respondents, they were compensated for their time with a gift voucher for online shopping In addition, following the judgment, case reports of violence and harassment experienced by MTH were collected from media and in-person qualitative interviews and underwent thematic analysis.

6 R ESULTS – ISHK ONNECT S URVEY Demographics (n = 342) −75% lived in Greater Mumbai/Thane − 56% earned at least Rs. 25,001/month −88% were college educated. −Mean age was 29.6 (SD=8.5) years.

7 R ESULTS – ISHK ONNECT S URVEY Participants who met partners on line were significantly more likely to report being asked for money after having sex (14.4%) than those meeting partners offline (8.8%; p<0.001) They were more likely to report theft (7.4% vs. 5.9%; p<0.001) than those meeting sex partners offline They were more likely to being forced to engage in unwanted sexual acts (14.7% vs 10.3%; p<0.001) than those meeting sex partners offline. Reported rates of physical injury were 4.4% for both groups.

8 S OME M EDIA R EPORTS AFTER R EINSTATEMENT OF S EC 377

9 R ESULTS – M EDIA WATCH Media reviews and qualitative interviews identified multiple cases of blackmail, theft, abuse and vilification of MTH since recriminalization. Sec. 377 is used by police and local goons to harass LGBT communities. Alternate sexuality/gender expressions, carrying condoms, feminine appearance, and loitering near cruising areas are pretexts used to threaten and corner MTH. Organized gangs set-up dates online with MTH in isolated settings, and then extort money from or blackmail MTH. Most MTH are unwilling to seek legal recourse, fearing punitive action and harassment under Sec 377 by authorities.

10 C RISES D OCUMENTATION AT T HE H UMSAFAR T RUST The Humsafar Trust intervenes in crises scenarios depending on the willingness of the MTH impacted to pursue the matter further. Media has been particularly forthcoming in highlighting crises situations (extortion, blackmail, etc.) involving sexuality-related scenarios of MTH individuals. Since the verdict, The Humsafar Trust has assisted to file five cases against perpetrators for extortion and blackmail in Mumbai. However, over 16 individuals have reported similar instances since the duration; some have been targeted by the same “gangs”. While most perpetrators have been miscreants who approach MTH individuals for sex and then blackmail them, blackmail from police too has been reported.

11 C RISES D OCUMENTATION H IGHLIGHTING I MPACT OF R EINSTATING S EC 377

12 C ONCLUSION The data presented clearly demonstrate adverse public health effects of 377. Civil society should lobby the Supreme Court to revise the December 2013 ruling. Health agencies should monitor the potential impact of Sec 377 on the health of MTH. Lobbying with political parties and health departments will ensure an enabling environment toward providing MTH with rights and dignity.

13 S UPPORT US !

14 A CKNOWLEDGEMENTS The research team would like to thank the Indian Council of Medical Research, Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases (Grant number INDO-US/84/2010-ECD-II),the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Grant number 1R21AI ), and University of California, San Francisco for their generous support of this study.

15 A NY Q UESTIONS …?

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