2019 Human Rights Violations Report
This report was published by the South Asian Human Rights Association of People Marginalised Because of their Sexualities & Gender Identity/Expression (SAHRA) – an organisation documenting human rights violations against gender and sexual minorities in South Asia. The report is a regional and country-level analysis of 810 cases of human rights violations – recorded in 2018 – faced by sexual and gender minorities in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. It was released in the year 2019.
Despite positive legislations strengthening the rights of sexual and gender minorities in some parts of South Asia, the experiences of people belonging to these minority groups remain dismal. The report states that laws against “‘indecency’, ‘public nuisance’, ‘unnatural sex’ and sex work” continue to be mobilised against sexual and gender minorities.
The report has gathered data on human rights violations against gender and sexual minorities through focus group interviews, forums and social media campaigns held by a network of NGOs, community-based organisations and volunteers.The 36-page document contains five sections: About this report (Section 1); Regional findings (Section 2); Country insights (Section 3); Conclusions (Section 4) and Recommendations (Section 5).
Out of the total 810 cases of violations reviewed in this report, almost half (372 cases) were reported in India. This was followed by Nepal (176 cases), Bangladesh (133 cases), Pakistan (105 cases) and Bhutan (24 cases). Sri Lanka, on the other hand, did not report any such cases.
Physical assault constituted 34 per cent of all the cases reviewed in this report. Sexual harassment comprised 12 per cent of all cases, unlawful arrest accounted for 11 per cent and rape was reported in six per cent of the total cases of human rights violations.
In India, physical assault made up 40 per cent of the total cases, followed by rape and sexual harassment (17 per cent). Around 10 per cent of all cases in India comprised unlawful arrests. In around seven per cent of all the cases reported in India, victims reported being blackmailed.
About 65 per cent of all the reviewed cases were reported by transgender women, followed by gay men (18 per cent), transgender men (nine per cent) and lesbian women (four per cent).
In India, 66 per cent of the cases were reported by transgender women. Around 23 per cent of cases were reported by gay men, five per cent by lesbian women and 4 per cent by bisexual men.
Of the 810 cases, 47 per cent of the victims of human rights violations were in the age group 26-35 years. Around 39 per cent were aged between 14-25 years. In India, 51 per cent of the victims were aged 26-35 years and 36 per cent were below 25 years of age.
Approximately 35 per cent of the victims of human rights violations in India were sex workers.
The report notes that 238 cases – 29 per cent of all the cases reviewed in this report – were experienced by people who were “out in public” about their gender identity and sexual orientation. In India, this number was as high as 88 per cent.
Among the perpetrators in the 810 cases, 23 per cent were strangers to the victims, 22 per cent were family members and 18 per cent were police personnel.
Overall, the report notes, only 12 per cent of the total cases were reported to the police. In India, only nine per cent of the cases were reported to the police and 72 per cent were reported to non-governmental organisations or community-based organisations. Almost one in every three cases that were reported to the police in India experienced ‘re-victimisation’ by the police themselves through sexual abuse and illegal detention.
The report states that human rights violations against sexual and gender minorities leaves them susceptible to mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorders.
The report emphasises the need to recognise and accept the rights of gender and sexual minorities by governments, human rights organisations, and the media. The report advocates for the repeal or reformation of laws that infringe upon the rights of these minority groups.
Focus and Factoids by Sheetal Bhopal.
PARI Library's health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.
South Asian Human Rights Association of People Marginalised Because of their Sexualities and Gender Identity/Expression (SAHRA)