Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Eunuchs of India (Hijras)

The eunuchs, also known as the “impotent ones” or Hijras, are men and boys who have been castrated through a genital reassignment surgery where the penis and testes are removed. This process is usually done through unsophisticated means, without the use of anesthesia or antibiotics. Some of the Hijras go through this process voluntarily while others are forced into it. The “lucky” ones are the intersexual ones, who do not have to go through any surgery to become Hijras.

This tradition has been in India for generations and as of 1990, studies say there were 50,000 Hijras. Their exact number today is unknown but they still live in some parts of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Modernization of the Indian society has, however, reduced their chances of getting decent jobs and some have turned to prostitution as a means of livelihood.

Another similar tradition occurred in China, before the Sui Dynasty, where eunuchs worked with the Imperial Service and gained a lot of power in the society