Consumer Pulse
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Amrita Ghosh, Bangalore

The Third gender, though a creation of Nature, has not just been treated differently but with disdain. Indeed, the very word by which it is referred, "hijra" has been derived from the Arabic word ’hjr ’meaning "leaving one's tribe“. Indian society has shunned this section of the population through most of history until now. The Indian Constitution guarantees this section of society the basic rights but they suffer discrimination with regard to social and cultural activities and deprivation in access to basic amenities and facilities like education, health services, employment, etc.

Though traditionally regarded as auspicious, most often people ridicule them and many view them as objects of annoyance and fear.

In April 2014, the Supreme Court of India recognised ‘hijra’ and transgender people as a 'third gender' in law but what is interesting are the initiatives undertaken by different organisations to provide them a platform and subtly knit them in the social fabric.

‘The Seatbelt Crew’ is a unified attempt by Ogilvy & Mather and Channel V, to “promote road safety and help foster a more positive public image of Hijras”.

The ‘Idea Internet Network’ advertisement does not appeal to many but some accept the existence of the social problems depicted in it. One of the versions show how ‘hijras’ face barriers to enter educational and other institutes

In Aug 2014, the Indian Govt. planned its first ever television and newspaper advertisements to spread awareness about rights of transgenders. Priya Babu, who is to draft the content of the campaign, intend to base his ideas on the ads launched in Canada, called ‘The Me Inside’ (whose tagline is ‘Not All Prisons Have Bars. Support Trans Awareness’)

Communication such as these has the potential to help draw this marginalised section into the mainstream. This inclusion allows us to cherish the uniqueness of an individual, as well as positively impacts society as a whole Also, such measures provide access to a new audience whose needs have not been explored so far

*Shanoor Seervai. ‘Who’s Behind the Transgender Video on Seatbelt Safety’. May 13, 2014. The Wall Street Journal, India.

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