Going Beyond HIV : Fighting for Social Entitlements for the MSM, Transgender and Hijra Community
In the course of their work with members of the MSM, transgender and hijra (MTH) community, Pehchan team members have become all too familiar with the constant discrimination faced by community members. A lot of this discrimination, however, goes beyond HIV. This has formed the basis for Pechan’s commitment to fighting for social entitlements owed to the MTH community, in addition to their health needs.
An example of how Pehchan is doing this is visible in its efforts to meet the needs of transgender and hijra community members who struggle with issues around identity, gender and social entitlements. Pehchan has ensured that this community has access to outreach and peer teams who educate community members about their human and legal rights, social welfare schemes, right to health care and other similar social entitlements.
Over the last quarter, the Pehchan team in Andhra Pradesh helped 84 members of the MTH community apply for ration cards, 49 members for voter ID cards and 10 members for unique identification cards. In addition to this, Pehchan helped 40 homeless MTH members apply for plots of land.
Fortunately, Andhra Pradesh is not a unique case – Pehchan is currently building the capacity of its implementing partners in all 17 implementation states to provide similar services to MTH community members.
The provision of these services is invaluable since these essential needs are yet to be addressed by the Government for sexually marginalized communities. The National Hijra Habba, recently held by Pehchan, has also helped create national awareness about the MTH community’s lack of social entitlements.
With support from the Global Fund, Pehchan builds the capacity of 200 community-based organisations (CBOs) for men who have sex with men (MSM), transgenders and hijras in 17 states in India to be more effective partners in the government’s HIV prevention programme. By supporting the development of strong CBOs, Pehchan will address some of the capacity gaps that have often prevented CBOs from receiving government funding for much-needed HIV programming. Named Pehchan which in Hindi means ‘identity’, ‘recognition’ or ‘acknowledgement,’ this programme is implemented by India HIV/AIDS Alliance in consortium with Humsafar Trust, SAATHII, Sangama, and SIAAP and will reach 453,750 MSM, transgenders and hijras by 2015. It is the Global Fund’s largest single-country grant to date focused on the HIV response for vulnerable sexual minorities.