Nun opens facility in Assam to help transgender people
Sister Prema Chowallur, who has been fighting human trafficking for years, is behind the initiative. “[R]idiculed and humiliated,” transgender people are “forced into prostitution. Our goal is to [. . .]restore their dignity.”
Guwahati (AsiaNews) – The Rainbow Home of the Seven Sisters (RHoSS) opened its doors on 4 May, in order to provide a home for homeless transgender women and help them build a better future.
The new facility – located in Guwahati, Assam,– is the brainchild of Sister Prema Chowallur, a member of the Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod, who has been working with marginalised people since 2016.
Sr Prema is also vice-president of the Indian section of the Asian Movement of Women Religious against Human Trafficking (AMRAT).
“These people are forced to beg because no one offers them a job,” said the nun, speaking to AsiaNews. “They are ridiculed and humiliated, relegated on the margins of cities, forced into prostitution. Our goal is to remove them from the backyards of skyscrapers and from slums, and restore their dignity.”
At present, only two people are housed at the home, a rented house, partly because of the difficulties associated with starting an initiative while a new wave of the pandemic unfolds. “But we already have others on our waiting list,” Sr Prema explained.
At the facility, “Residents learn to read and write, stich, drive, make candles. They can learn technical skills and ways to lead a dignified life in society and the family, making them self-sufficient.”
For the nun, “The aim is to reduce begging and prostitution, wounds that a society should no longer tolerate. They are not objects, but people who deserve respect and dignity like everyone else”.
The RHoSS is also concerned about transgender children, who are very vulnerable. “These young people are going through a crisis. They often leave home and end up joining transgender groups that absorb them into their cult-like community.”
“My goal is to offer them a safe place to be educated, supported and truly integrated into society. By gaining custody under child protection legislation, we can place them in school and help them pursue a higher education, instead of leaving them on the platforms of railway stations.”
India officially grants trans people “third gender” status, but in fact they remain largely ostracised by their communities.
“The Church today is called to work for those who are excluded, discarded, and marginalised,” Sr Prema said.
“Building skyscrapers, large malls or smart cities will not bring any glory or development until we agree to treat every person with humanity and love, beyond any gender distinction.”