In India and several other countries, Eunuchs have been a celebrity. In today’s world, Eunuchs bless people to have a child since they cannot. Its the philosophy of good karma…do good to others even if nature was not as nice. Regardless, an Eunuch is infertile and sadly cannot have a child. So instead of blessing you with a child, what if you bless an Eunuch with a child? There are also not so many nice things that happen to Eunuchs today in a post-British India. Eunuchs were a somewhat of a celebrity and were part of a powerful inner circle in a pre-British India.
Today, Eunuchs have minimal human rights. They cannot legally marry. They cannot legally adopt or have a child any other way since they are infertile. What does an Eunuch do to have a child at any and all costs? And how did the plights of Eunuchs get this way? India traditionally has been a collection of princely kingdoms or monarchies. “Heir” is very important and having a child is very important. The knowledge to run societies acquired over years, decades, centuries, millenia in India, it is believed that a person may be the most righteous and loyal except when it comes to his/her children. Then even the strongest become frail. Since Eunuchs are infertile, kings and queens see loyalty in them as they have no children to be disloyal/corrupt for. For decades, centuries, Eunuchs were the de facto loyal and royal servant in the king and queen private chamber. The king also felt comfortable in having a Eunuch as a companion for his wife, the queen so that there are no chances of cheating. Some families who were very poor with no ray of hope forcibly castrated one of their sons and turned him into an Eunuch just so that he could get a job in the royal palace and thereby uplifting the economic status of their family. With access to the royal chambers and some of the most private moments of kings or queens, Eunuch commanded a lot of power by having the ruler’s ear. Then how did this group of people who were living in the best of places get shunted to being homeless? They went from being everywhere in power to no basic human rights?
Today, Eunuchs in India will Bless people so that they are blessed with a child. What if you try to share a child to an Eunuch, does the child have human rights, does the fertile spouse who shares a child have rights? Secrecy, lies, fraud don’t help anyone, not an individual nor a government. The pre-British Indian way of handling Eunuchs was far better. Its natural, they exist, they cannot bear a child, you live happily anyway. More importantly, you do not pass laws to make their existence illegal or ostracize them, you include them in your economy and allow them to live honestly. Perhaps innocent lives can be saved too that way? Parents of Eunuchs have to lie today Vs. parents back then forcibly castrated their sons to make them an Eunuch. Innocent siblings are split today Vs Eunuchs formed a sisterhood or brotherhood and at least felt the love of a fellow human being that way closer to them.
Whatever we say about India, Eunuchs exist, they have an identity, they are recognized as the third gender which is being truthful and society has carved out a special role for them to play. Allowing a person to live honestly and truthfully is the single biggest human right. The weight of secrecy, lies, fraud eventually catches up.
When the British came to India and started passing laws, they brought with them British laws. In 1860, the British passed a law in India which made it illegal to have “unnatural sex” which banned gays, lesbians, and Eunuchs from having sex. The respect and recognition given to Eunuchs for years, decades, centuries, millenia in the pre-British Indian culture had been taken away and forced a British version. This part of the law is known as Section 377 in the Indian constitution and in 2014 the Indian Supreme Court upheld it saying changing laws is job of the Parliament. That does not mean they agree or disagree with Section 377. However lot of people made a lot of hype about how backward this was without knowing that it was the British who gave this law to India. Indians have always been welcoming of the truth and integrating people of all walks into the fabric of society. Wonder what a Britisher had to say about the ruling of Section 377 in 2014?
If Section 377 was not enough, in 1871, the British introduced another law, the Criminal Tribes Act where a person of certain tribes in India had to submit to local police surveillance with no warrant, search and seizure with no warrant, etc. In 1897, the act was amended with the title itself, “An Act for the Registration of Criminal Tribes and Eunuchs”. Here if you were an Eunuch, you had to register yourself to the police. The title of the Act itself is offensive and discriminatory in 2014 but in 1897 it was not. Using a combination of these two acts, Section 377 from 1861 and the Criminal Tribes Act of 1897, the Eunuchs were systematically ostracized and forced to live farther away from the community at large at the outskirts or outside a city. Perhaps this is where the current state of Eunuchs in India can best be understood. Compared to the pre-British era, eunuchs in India in 2014 have very few human rights. They largely make a living by singing, dancing, begging, some are sadly sex workers. Overall their economic status is very bad – a far cry from from the royal palaces just a few centuries ago.