Abandoned by her parents when she was just thirteen, Mohini Mahant (53), a transgender from Ludhiana, became the first from LGBT community to be selected as a member of a bench of National Lok Adalat in Punjab Saturday. But a day of being a jurist at district courts in Ludhiana hasn’t changed anything in her life, except for some fame and respectful gestures by others at the court. Mohini still asks the same question: Will she now get a job as per her qualification?
On Sunday, she was back to singing, dancing to seek wadhaiyaan (cash benevolence gifts) from family in her neighborhood that recetly welcomed a newborn boy in their home. Dancing to dholak beats, she had her earnings for the day arranged.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Mohini, a masters degree holder in public administration and social work, said, “I am very happy that I was a jurist for a day. But still no one will give a job to a hijra. I am educated but I have to work like other hijras only. I am back on streets today, dancing and clapping and asking for wadhaiyaan (money) from people. I wish that being on National Lok Adalat panel would fetch me a dignified job too. Why we have to do all this for earning our livelihood? It is because despite being qualified, no one gives us jobs. I am a postgraduate in public administration and a masters in social work too.”
Mohini is now preparing for PhD in public administration. Mohini says that she is disappointed that despite several directions of the Supreme Court to rehabilitate LGBT community, they remain on paper only. “There is no job that we cannot do. Despite Supreme Court directions, we do not get jobs. I respect my work of dancing because it is feeding me. But that’s not all we can do. We can do much more, but only if we get an opportunity,” she says.
A resident of Ram Nagar in Ludhiana, she is basically from Rajasthan and was abandoned by her parents when she was thirteen. “Obviously, they had issues with my sexuality. They had issues about me being a hijra,” says Mohini, choking up.
Mohini migrated from Rajasthan to Punjab in 2009 after being adopted by her hijra community and then in 2012 started Mansa Foundation Welfare Society which is currently working for welfare of LGBT community and creating mass awareness about their fundamental rights, health issues and legal rights across Punjab.
While hijras are known for visiting homes only when baby boys are born, her group also works against female foeticide. “When a girl is born, some families celebrate their birth and call us. We go there to share their happiness. But it is true that still we are ignored by most of families where girls are born. They refuse to entertain us or give us anything,” she says.
“I studied till Class 7 as a regular student but after that I pursued distance education. I completed masters in public administration from Maharaja Ganga Singh University in Bikaner. Now I am looking for a mentor who can guide me for PhD,” she says.
Gurpreet Kaur, Chief Judicial Magistrate and Secretary, District Legal Services Authority (DLSA), Ludhiana, said, “We wanted to give representation to LGBT community in Lok Adalat. Mohini is qualified and doing social work for her community since years so her application was selected. A Lok Adalat bench consists of three members — a judicial officer, an advocate and a social worker. However, it is not a permanent job but bench members are paid around
Rs 1,000 per day.”