Eunuchs: Facing empathy or abhorrence?

The other day I witnessed forced entry of two eunuchs into my sister’s apartment, equipped with ‘dholkis’ and other musical instruments. Dressed in saris, wearing heavy make-up and carrying an obnoxious aura, they danced and sang to their soul’s content. Reason? The birth of a baby in my sister’s family.

They performed a small ‘pooja’ at the doorstep, with a liitle ‘aata’ and ‘haldi’. Then started the real drama.

After a short display of happiness at the birth of the baby, the eunuchs put forth their unbelievable demand of Rs 21, 000, and surprisingly standing at the threshold of an army officer, a Captain so to say, whose monthly take-home remuneration is somewhat around Rs 12, 000!

This undue demand came as a shock for the entire family. After a terrible search, a sum of Rs 5000 was traced in the locker. Sacred by the presence of the eunuchs, known for their disgraceful behaviour in public, my sister’s mum-in-law offered them an amount of Rs 11,00. She also explained them the financial constraints of the family.

But to my surprise, they were not in a receptive mode. They threatened to create a ruckus, if their demand was not fulfilled.

At that time I was fuming with anger, but stood helpless, as I knew that I could do ‘nothing’ to pacify them.

After repeated entreaties, they agreed on accepting Rs 5000. The family took a sigh of relief at the thought of at last getting rid of the “mindless eunuchs”.

Finally they left happily, showering blessings on the baby. But they left me thinking. I kept asking myself: Was it an extortion or beggary? Do they like or despise living the life of a “hijra”, as we term it? What is it, that has made them so shameless in their social approach and harsh? Several questions haunted me all night.

After reading about this class of the society, whom we may call the “third sex” or “hermaphrodites”, I found that very few of the eunuchs in India are truly hermaphrodites by birth. Researchers found that most of them are castrated, under various circumstances and for various reasons, since ancient times. They are hence termed as pseudo-hermaphrodites by scholars.

This class of sexless people are denied the right to live a normal life like ours. They are deprived of the right to work normally as we do. They are looked down upon by this society of normal beings like us. What they face is hatred and mockery. This extreme repugnance from the society, compels them to be harsh and hence behave in a disgraceful manner.

Having born as a normal human being, either male or a female, but later castrated, they too have sex drives, which get them into prostitution. They live a wretched life and also die wretched. I read somewhere that when a eunuch dies, the corpse is beaten 27 times with slippers by the others in the community, so that the dead eunuch is never born as a eunuch again. Indeed a heart piercing fact!

I wonder how many of us really think about them. Human rights activists are busy fighting for the woman’s cause, child abuse, human trafficking and what not. What are these activists and the government doing for this class of people? They are in desparate need to be identified and respected at the same time as the third sex called eunuchs.

The Government of India should start educating them and creating job avenues for them as well. They are the backward class of the society, in the truest sense, who need to be cared and dignified.

By destiny or choice, the truth that stands bold and loud is that these eunuchs lead a miserable life, conditioned to face abhorrence. I guess it’s high time we seriously press for their rights, so that they are also empowered with the right to live, think and speak, the way we do.


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