The recent Delhi gang rape case has jolted the entire nation out of its slumber, urging every citizen to come out, exercise their rights and raise their voices for a safer India. Joining countrymen, the members of the GBTI (Gay/ Bisexual/ Transgender/ Intersex) community are doing their bit through their initiative, Delhi Dost or Chhakka Squad. Conceptualised sometime in 2008 by members of Society for People’s Awareness, Care & Empowerment (SPACE), the project has finally gained momentum following the month-old case.

“The recent case involving a 23-year-old student shook the community members, and the Delhi Dost team realised that this was the time to expand and become mainstream. The members understand the agony of rape and abuse as it is their daily ordeal. Hence, the team formed a ‘squad’, which on receiving complaints, would provide counselling by trained counsellors, assist the victim in filing an FIR, visit police stations and follow the culprit until he confesses to his crime by using all hijra tactics, but without getting violent, and if needed, hold protest marches,” says Anjan Joshi, executive director, SPACE.

According to Joshi, the squad was formed following counselling sessions that revealed the unreported cases of harassment, molestation, ridicule and rape faced by the community. Comprising GTBI members, who are trained on legal issues, the team also takes care of cases pertaining to abandoned, street-based transgenders who have no one to claim their bodies on death. “There have been instances when the police have actually stripped them just to check who they actually are! It was at then that the idea of ‘Delhi Dost Crisis Response Team’ was conceptualised. To further the cause, the team started conducting Advocacy and Sensitisation meetings with the police on LGBTI issues and also put up cases in court and seek bail when community members are unlawfully detained or arrested by police,” says Joshi.

So, have many help requests poured in? “Not many complaints have been received as yet, but there have been a few queries by women callers to ask what help can be provided in times of crisis. Maybe it’s because of the stigma and discrimination associated with the community. However, there have been innumerable complaints made by members from within the community with a mandate to respond within 24 hours. Most cases have been brought to justice and in some, the victim himself/herself backs out fearing the police would involve the family members in investigations,” he says.

The Helpline numbers are: 011-65647105, 011-23811714 (10:30 AM to 6:00 PM)

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