Hijras and their rights: in mythology and socio-cultural practises of India

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Aggarwal, Aayushi
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In this thesis, I attempt to locate the rights of the Hijra(s), a trans community in India, within the mythological, socio-cultural context of contemporary Indian law. Culture and rights, however, are extremely sensitive and subjective topics. In this huge, International world of rights, in which State and International rights are supposed to co-exist, the term 'culture' becomes contentious. The presence or absence of rights, either National or International is, and can be seen through the lens of culture or history. In lieu of this, over the last decade, many South Asian countries such as India, Nepal, and Pakistan have adjudicated legal recognition for transgenders. They use the terminology of ‘third sex,' to denote individuals who are neither men nor women, and are characterized as such either by themselves or by the society. The term ‘third gender’ is also often used to denote certain communities in these countries, ‘hijras’ being one of those. The thesis aims to explore how human rights for hijras on an equal footing with other (cisgender) people can best be advanced in India. The pivotal point of this study is the community of hijras. The subsequent chapters will discuss the circumstances of hijras through the historical and mythological perspective of the Indian sub continent and the legal standing in Indian legislature. I aim to analyze their place in the history of the country, and the contemporary acceptance or lack of acceptance they face due to that history. The research aims to : Evaluate the place accorded to hijras in the socio-cultural, mythological context of India, and whether that place can be re-evaluated in the modern context. Professor Tom Zwart’s receptor approach vis-a vis the implementation of the rights accorded by international treaties. Finally, whether the advancement of human rights for hijras can best be achieved through the lens of the ancient socio-cultural beliefs of India, and the cultural relativist receptor approach conceived by Tom Zwart’s.
Second semester University: Utrecht University
transgender, India, culture, history, law, human rights