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Mallika Priya Khullar
3 years ago
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Flutur Blog Author
Mallika Priya Khullar
3 years ago

#AllLivesMatter - Hiring Transgenders, Survivors of Attacks and the Physically Disabled

Picture: Wikipedia
Three years ago, India's judiciary recognised transgender as a third gender, as a valid identity. The Supreme Court noted that transgenders deserved all the constitutional entitlements that were heretofore enjoyed by the other two genders. Well as that might be, society, unfortunately, is guided by its own rules, the roots of which run too deep to be sawed off by one sweep of legality. It is understood that for communities to catch up to this ruling, people from all realms will have to move forward with open minds and treat transgenders with as much regard as they would any strict male or female.
Acid attack
Picture: The Better India
On the other hand lies another sect of people that society has difficulty accomodating. Acid attacks have rocked the conscience of our land time and again. Coming to the frontline over these years have been maimed faces, incapacitating stories, and families driven to complete bankruptcy bearing the exorbitant costs of treatment. Regulations tailored to acid attacks were added to the Indian Penal Code in 2013. But once again, despite inclusions to the written law, the fact remains that the means to this evil are still quite accessible and the causes that provoke such malice remain quite quotidian and trivial.

In India alone, 250 to 300 acid attacks are reported every year, despite laws that restrict the sale of acid or other deadly chemicals. Acid attacks are possibly the worst infliction that can be put upon another human being - it leads to debilitation, loss of employment and in some cases - social sequestration.
Picture: youtube
Finally let’s also look at the eschewing of people with disabilities in the professional world. A recent New York Times study reveals that employers were 34% less likely to hire an job candidate with a disability despite their higher experience levels, showing that hiring discrimination still persists as a stark reality even today when people and organisations claim to value diversity.

Many individuals and organisations, for example, are said to be suffering from ‘Audism’, the notion that one is superior based on one's ability to hear. Roughly 70 million people in India alone are estimated to be suffering from physical disabilities. That’s a sizeable number of people to face inequity in the work field on a regular basis for reasons that can’t be helped.

Ron Kozberg, executive vice president of Lift Inc., has said that the culturally Deaf, among other groups of people with disabilities, are an often misunderstood group, though they are just as skilled as their co-workers who can hear. ‘They seem to have the ability to focus in on a job and not let outside distractions influence them,’ he says. ‘They are dedicated and determined, almost more so, because they have had to overcome more than the average worker.’

Let’s look at the pioneers of the movement of acceptance and rehabilitation, the people who’re helping transgenders, acid attack victims and people with disabilities to achieve great heights in their work fields!
Picture: Echoes, Youtube
Imagine stepping in to a restaurant and being served by staff which is deaf and mute. Sounds difficult in execution right? Well now you can actually get this novel and frankly ever so magical experience at the ECHOES cafe. The food and beverages served at ECHOES are affordable and yet, because ECHOES offers so much than just the food on the platter, the experience in itself is a once in a lifetime one.

A deck of notes is given to you. These notes will say things like ‘bill please’, ‘water please’ etc. and every seat has a switch that can be pressed to request the server to come and take down your order. Once the server comes to take your order, you can show them one of the cards you’ve been given or point out items on the menu or write down the serial number of the dish you wish to order on a little booklet that you’ve been given to place the order. In Bangalore the same thing is achieved by ringing the bell hanging on top of your table.

ECHOES was started by Kshitij Behl and Shivansh Kumar. The first outlet was opened in Delhi and now ECHOES has come to namma Bengaluru with their second instalment in Koramangala.

When the realisation dawns that the deaf, mute or those with other physical shortcomings are not very different from those without, it is accompanied with the realisation that they too have the right to live a full life with dignity and they too have a right to earn a living. ECHOES stands in a league of its own because their goal is to create an avenue where specially abled staff can work with confidence and dignity. For most people, the idea of assisting those with disabilities involves monetary help, sympathy and awareness. ECHOES takes it a step forward and gives them a way to earn their livelihood long term.
2. Kochi Metro Rail Ltd.

How often have our cars stopped at traffic signals to see transgender women approaching drivers and back seat customers seeking money? How often have we taken a train in India, only to find transgender women trying to make ends meet by seeking alms on platforms?

Heretofore, interaction with a transgender person brought out the deepest, darkest biases and prejudices of class among middle India. If you identified as transgender, the inadvertent assumption would be that you're headed for a dishonourable life on the streets, with a future that's downcast and despondent. The good news? There are proponents who want to be able to bring transgenders into the mainstream, ensure that people interact with them on a daily basis to understand that they too have unalienable rights and most importantly, find ways to provide them jobs and help them take control of their livelihoods.

Kochi’s metro, in an attempt to consolidate trans people into the society, has hired 23 people from the hijra community. Their roles will range from serving passengers, working at ticketing counters to house keeping. The spokeswoman for Kochi Metro Rail claimed that the new hires were part of a wider initiative to make the trains in India more inclusive. The state of Kerala, of which Kochi is a part, is much more liberal and has a higher grade of education than most other Indian states, sporting a literacy rate of 94%. Their government is often praised for intellectually decided policies such as this one.
3. Khaas
Picture: Milaap
Khaas is a travel agency established by Akash Bhardwaj in 2016, after he’d had an encounter with an acid attack survivor who was selling balloons. The woman, who as it turns out, was well spoken, calm and hardworking, however she had been abandoned by her husband and family and was refused a job after the incident where a boy in her neighbourhood threw acid on her face.

Akash realised that victims of attacks involving acid, people suffering from HIV, those who are visually or otherwise physically impaired didn’t need sympathy. They needed a safe and regular workspace for them to be able to regain self-reliance and take control of their lives and make the most of their potential.

Today, Khaas has employed six visually impaired women, who are talented and resolved to make the most their lives. Previously without a safe working environment and a place to really showcase their talent, in Khaas they’ve found a workplace which provides them a place where they can work, meet people, and sometimes even join the group tours that they provide to their clients.
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