Tagged: Sexual Minorities

Press release: HIV positive people support agitating workers of Karnataka Stake AIDS Prevention Society Contractual Employees Association

Praja Rajakiya Vedike

& Karnataka HIV Sonkithare Sanghatane

Press Release

Bangalore, 5 Feb 2014:Praja Rajakiya Vedike (PRV) in association with Karnataka HIV Sonkithara Sanghatane along with Karnataka Sex Workers Union (KSWU) and Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum (KSMF) took out a Rally from Anandrao Circle (near VRL) to Freedom Park, in support of the agitating workers of Karnataka Stake AIDS Prevention Society (KSAPS) Contractual Employees Association.

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Their main demands include Regularisation of all contractual employees who are working in the AIDS control programmes into the Government setup and to apply sixth pay commission salary scale to all KSAPS contractual employees on par with Karnataka State Government employees.

For the last several years, doctors, the counsellors, lab technicians, and other para medical staff and nurses have been supporting and helping many of our members including people living with HIV, sex workers and sexual minorities but the Government instead of meeting the just demands of the workers is trying to divide and rule saying that ART (medicine for HIV positive people) services are being affected. “It is true that the services are temporarily affected but it is the duty of the government to see that people living with HIV are supplied with stocks which are given for one month in advance,” said Parveen of Karnataka HIV Sonkithara Sanghatane. “Instead of solving the problem, the government is trying to divide community from the counsellors who have been supporting us all along,” she added.

HIV positive leaders from Karnataka HIV Sonkithare Sanghatane from many districts, have arrived in Bangalore, to support the striking Contractual employees of Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society. For the last seven days, as part of a national-level agitation, about 2200 workers of HIV prevention programmes in the State, have gathered a Freedom park to demand regularisation of all contractual employees.

Bharathi, HIV+ and General Secretary of the Karnataka Sex Workers Union said, workers should be united. Governments are also violating labour rights in the HIV prevention programs where they employ sex workers, sexual minorities, drug users and migrants. By terming them as volunteers/ peer educators they are violating minimum wages act, contract labour act etc. She called for all these workers and KSAPS contract workers to join hands to support rights of both these sections.

Manohar Elavarthi, Jont Secretary of Praja Rajakiya Vedike said that the governments are systematically denying labour rights by making large sections them as contract workers. Like KSAPS contract workers, ASHAs, Anganwadi workers, contract municipal workers (paurakamikas) and many others are denied their rights in this process. He said that all workers from organised, unorganised and informal sectors should come together to defend the rights of all workers and to eliminate contract labour system and for the proper implementation of labour laws.

For details call Manohar at 96322 23460 or Parveen at 98809 52676

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Sharanya Matthu Sruthi Love Story – Jeeva Video Pathrike 1

Jeeva Video Magazine 1 “Sruthi-Saranya Love Story” is a true story about two young lesbian women from Kerala falling in love and fighting for their love against all odds. The film explores how these women met, the reaction of their families when they found out and the support sought by them to live their lives as they wished. The film particularly focuses on the legal impediments faced by lesbian couples, the denial of right of a woman to choose her partner, lack of availability of space to express one’s gender and sexual identity and the patriarchal control over women’s sexuality.

Death beckons, a day after the Sexual Minority Pride Rally; Condoling the death of Vamshi Raju, a transgender person

Praja Rajakiya Vedike

Press Release

Death beckons, a day after the Sexual Minority Pride Rally

Condoling the death of Vamshi Raju, a transgender person

vamshiraju

Bangalore, 25 Nov 2013: It’s just a day after the Pride Rally. The sexual minority community from far and near danced with gay abandon and shouted slogans in their attractive attires even as sparkling rainbow colours set the mood for members of sexual minorities to come out of the closet and indulge in a public show of affection and togetherness on Sunday to create awareness among the public and especially families of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.

But all is not well and the community is still not accepted by even the families who have a member who has a different sexual orientation/gender identity than the one normally accepted. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members undergo regular violence at the hands of their own families, neighbours and many other sections of the society, not to talk about the police atrocities.

“Vamshi Raju, a 21-yar-old Engineering student and a transgender from Yeshwantpur, who danced openly on Sunday at the Pride Rally was captured by TV Cameras and the family could not miss these visuals in the evening news. Sunday night there was a big fight as he returned home from the rally. Unable to bear the denial from his own family, a depressed Vamshi committed suicide,” said Manohar Elavarthi, a human rights activist and joint secretary of Praja Rajakiya Vedike (PRV).

“It is not the first time. Even last week he faced severe physical violence by his father at his home and had to seek shelter in a transgender friend’s house at about 11 pm,” added Manohar. “He was going through a lot of family harassment for more than a year. His family was harassing him so that he won’t interact with sexual minority community members. They have even stopped him from going to his college for 2 months last year,” he revealed.

Acceptance at homes, not just from the public, is a big challenge for members of the sexual minorities who come out into the open with their sexual and gender preferences. Praja Rajakiya Vedike demands the police to investigate and file an FIR immediately. Though he was a pant-shirt Kothi, Vamshi was open about his identity and used to dress in a saari on occasions. A lot of members from these communities face tough mental health issues that needs to be addressed by NGOs and the government agencies to assure them that they too have equal rights as all citizens of India.

Many human rights organisations, Community Based Organisations, NGOs working for the rights of Sexual Minorities have condemned the harassment meted out to the Vamshi and conveyed their deep condolences at the death of another member of the community.

For details call Manohar at 963222 3460 or 94839 50202

Sangama nails father’s lies, comes to Lesbians’ rescue (Press Conference)

Press Release

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Gurukiran Kamath, BT Venkatesh, Manohar Elavarthi, Saranya, Shruthi (Left to Right) addressing the press conference

Bangalore, 27 July 2013: Two lesbians from Kerala, who ran away from their homes, addressed a Press Conference here today saying that they came to Bangalore voluntarily and on their own without any pressure or force from anyone.

“The girls are safe here and both the local police and Kerala police know about it. Even the father has come here to the Sanjaynagar Police Station, where the police after taking a written statement from the women refused to send them back as the women did not want to go back to their families,’’ said Elavarthi Manohar, Joint Secretary, Praja Rajakiya Vedike and founder of Sangama.

Addressing a Press Conference at the Institute of Agriculture Technologists (IAT) on Queen’s Road here today, he added: “Her father has given false information and is misleading the court and the police. He knows where his daughter is and he has spoken to her both in person in Bangalore and on phone many times but still he gave a missing complaint in the police station. These are adult women who have a right to decide on their own and Sangama will definitely support them.’’

“Sangama is a human rights organisation promoting and defending the rights of sexual minorities, sex workers and other oppressed communities and has been working with organisation in Kerala for the last 10 years and from 2010 it has been directly doing local work from many cities in Kerala with the community based organizations of sexual minorities with the support of Global Fund. The organisation has supported many such couples from Kerala in the last 13 years,’’ he revealed.

Sangama legal advisor and prominent Human Rights Lawyer, Mr BT Venkatesh said: “a petition was filed in the Kerala High Court against the State and one of the women. The father of Saranya alleged that “a lesbian” had kidnapped her daughter with the support of Sangama. They have misled the court as the petition was filed suppressing the facts and the incidents that took place in the Office of the  Inspector of Police, Sanjay Nagar Police Station, Bangalore.”

“He knows that where her daughter is and he is in touch with her,” he added. “We will be placing the facts before the honourable court on July 30,” he added.

Gurukiran Kamath, Director, Sangama said: “In the month of June 2013, Sangama Crisis helpline received a phone call from two women in Kerala asking for support to lead an independent life. Both of them narrated tales of harassment from their families and have taken a decision to come out of Kerala after due consideration.”

“Initially our helpline coordinator after an assessment of their age, school certificates assured them support. They requested Sangama to provide them legal support, if it is needed. They again called our helpline on the 6th of July 2013 saying they were on their way to Bangalore and requested Sangama to provide them support of shelter. After checking their credentials we provided them the required support including legal aid,” added Gurukiran.

Addressing the media, the women said that they have voluntarily come to Bangalore on their own. “We have informed our parents and have sent telegrams to our families stating that we are safe. We also gave a written statement to the Sanjaynagar Police and informed the Kerala Police, who came in search of us that we are adults and we are not willing to go back home,’’ they added. It was on the 10th July when Saranya’s father and Shruthi’s brother came to Bangalore accompanied by Kerala police.

Replying to a question, the women took courage and revealed their names: Both Saranya and Shruthi said they were 21 years of age.

Earlier, with the help of Sanjaynagar police, the Kerala Police came to Sangama office on July 10 and started searching for the women. Our activists stopped the police and asked if they had a search warrant. They did not have search warrant. We communicated the same to the Inspector of Police, Sanjaynagar, Bangalore. He informed us that police from Kerala had come to his police station seeking assistance on a complaint lodged by father of Saranya that his daughter was found missing from home.

On 11th July, 2013 day the women wanted to visit Sanjaynagar police station and requested for assistance of Sangama. And Sangama’s representatives visited the police station on their request. The Inspector of Police, Sanjaynagar Police Station, facilitated meeting of women with their family members. “The Police enquired whether we are interested in returning home with members of our family. We refused to return and informed my brother and Saranya’s father that we are fine and safe here and we want to live in Bangalore on our own. The Inspector of Police, Sanjaynagar, Bangalore recorded our statements,’’ said Shruthi. The police also supplied copies of the same to the police of Kerala, who were present during the said time in the Police Station.

For more details call Gurukiran 09972903460 or the helpline 09901682151