Today, India is still considered to be one of the most sexually conservative countries. Even among the ever-growing younger generation, the topic of sex is still considered to be a “taboo” topic. It is common practice for parents to tell their children that sex is shared between two people who are married. Even Bollywood movies, which often fall
under the category of romance/action films, typically portray women as “damsels in distress,” while the males are often depicted as the “knight’s in shining armor.” However, I wouldn’t advise anyone to hold their breath waiting in anticipation for the passionate, kissing scene. It simply will not happen! And you can forget about any heated sex-scenes too. Both considered inappropriate and is believed to pass the wrong message out to the younger generation. No worries about the violence though; apparently that’s natural. Who would of thought?
In 2009, homosexuality was “decriminalized”after being considered illegal for nearly a 150-years. Even with this being the case, homophobia is still very much alive and prevalent. The common saying among Indians when asked about its’ homosexual population, “That’s not an Indian thing…”
Being that this is the common reaction toward those who don’t fit the culturally created gender-roles, life becomes more of a challenge. In many cases, those who are ostracized from society and forced to live among hijras, does not necessarily mean that they’ve embraced the “third-gender” status.
In many cases, these individuals are either gay, transgendered or inter-sexed (those who are born with both male and female anatomy) but who have no choice other than to identify as a hijra. If not, they are forced to wander alone and risk becoming lost among the millions of individuals known as the untouchables; the poorest of the poor who have no place within the caste-system. When choosing to be among other hijras, they are adopted into newfound families, often times living in the slums of various Indian cities, with the promise of safety and care provided by one another.
The history of hijras date back as far as 4,000 years ago and are represented in the Kama Sutra which dates back to the Second-Century. Today, their roles are just as significant in India and Pakistan as it was before the British colonization in the 18th century.
Spirituality in India is as important as the blood that flows within our veins. It is for this reason alone, that hijras are culturally accepted…to a point. They will never be looked at as “normal” citizens, but they are recognized as individuals who represent India’s rich, spiritual and cultural history.