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EUNUCHS IN INDIA

UCHS IN INDIA

EUNUCHS IN INDIA

It has been estimated that there are at least a million eunuchs in India. They are known as hijra, and make their livings as beggars, prostitutes and by removing "bad luck".

Visitors to India can frequently see groups of gaudily dressed hijra outside large railway stations. They beg for money and, if you refuse, you will be loudly cursed and they will expose the area between their legs where their genitals used to be. Many of them have also had this area branded, so that at first glance they appear to be women.

The prostitution side of their income is interesting. They act as prostitutes for men who can not afford the price of a real woman. Of course, they are also popular with men who like transsexuals.

Removing bad luck also provides part of their income. When a house is built, the owners will frequently employ a eunuch to dance in each room to take away any potential bad luck. This is because eunuchs have suffered the very worst fate that could befall anyone, and consequently do not mind accepting a little bit more for a fee. Groups of hijra also turn up uninvited at weddings and dance around the guests, ostensibly to take away any bad luck that may befall the groom and bride. However, it is an expensive matter to get the hijras to leave, making this a lucrative part of their income.

During the last few years they have found a new way of making money. In a crowded country like India it is very difficult for young couples to have time all by themselves. Consequently, they find secluded parts of public parks to cuddle and perhaps make love. The hijras search out these young couples out and demand money to leave.

Most hijras are transsexuals who have had the operation voluntarily. The operation is expensive and most have had to save up to have it done. It is performed out of doors and a group of hijras will gather to sing songs as the operation is being performed. The eunuch-to-be is usually drugged and the operation is performed with one cut, severing the entire genitalia. The person is then made to walk around for an hour or so before being allowed to rest. Surprisingly, even though the operation is done with unsterile instruments, the mortality rate is small. However, when I was in India a few years back I read a newspaper article condemning the practice because some people die as a result of the operation.

An excellent book called "Neither Male nor Female" describes the life of the transsexual eunuchs. However, it makes no mention of the boys who are kidnapped and castrated by members of the eunuch community. This is one of two bad aspects of the hijras.

If a child is born with any deformity of the genitals they are destined to join the hijras, whether they want to or not. The hijras will wait until the child is twelve or thirteen and then gather outside the house demanding the child as theirs. Even if the parents do not want to part with the child, they ultimately do so.

It is a risky business being a small boy living on the streets in any part of the world, but especially so in India, as there is the added risk of being transformed into a eunuch. The eunuchs gain the child's trust by providing food, shelter and friendship. There are two photographs of a fifteen year old eunuch (one naked and the other wearing women's clothes), kidnapped and castrated by the eunuch community, in the book "Sex Watching" by Milton Diamond (Macdonald and Company, London, 1984).

I have visited India countless times on business and my interest in the hijras began on my first visit in 1969 when I stayed in a large hotel in Bombay. The man who took my bags up to my room asked if I wanted a woman for the night. I was exhausted after a long flight and said "no". He then offered me a boy. When I said "no" to that also, I was offered a eunuch.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 Jan. 1997
in Ritual

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