India's oft-discriminated "third sex" is about to receive government acknowledgment, with thousands of the capital city's massive eunuch population expected to receive government pensions for their hardships in order to keep them off the streets, the Times of India is reporting.
According to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, adult eunuchs are to receive 1,000 rupees ($23) each month. In order to claim the pension, a eunuch must submit a medical certificate from a government hospital as proof of no longer having male genitalia, as well as an affidavit proclaiming they are not married and proof of age.
"Most eunuchs live in misery," Jagdish Mamgain of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi is quoted by the Belfast Telegraph as saying.
The Telegraph reports that India has an estimated 1.5 million eunuchs, known as hijras or kinnar, who are both feared and persecuted throughout the country. While some transvestites and transsexuals identify as eunuchs, most are men born with deformed genitals, who undergo castration-like operations, while others are effeminate boys disowned by families who must earn their keep through begging.
Though eunuchs were once prevalent throughout Asia, India is the only nation where the castration tradition is maintained, and many are believed to possess occult powers, and as such are invited to weddings, housewarmings and other social events, according to ThingsAsian. About 300,000 live in New Delhi alone.