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Manipur setups trans-friendly quarantine centres: Lessons to learn

The coronavirus epidemic has disrupted the entire ecosystem and has exposed existing vulnerabilities that plague society. Following this, the world has been bestowed with a multifaceted problem: health and social emergency combined with gender associated problems. As such, the Manipur government has set up a transgender quarantine centre for the migrants coming from other states.

The centre is opened at Government Ideal Blind School, Takyelpat. The govt took the decision after a section of people transgender community highlighted problems regarding their stay in quarantine centres. “A few of them started feeling insecure and were not emotionally uncomfortable”, said N G Uttam Singh, Director of Manipur Social Welfare.

As per govt sources, 50 people from the transgender community are expected to enter Manipur from different parts of India. There are already more than 10 people in the conventional quarantine facilities. “When we realise that they are not comfortable with other genders, we went for separate categories”, said Singh.

Inside the quarantine facility

The Manipur govt has established quarantined norms that are to be maintained. They have 2 categories, one is for people coming from the red zone and the other is for the orange and green zone. For the people who are coming from the red zone, they will be lodged in the Maria Montessori School, which is an institutional quarantine facility. The facility already has a male and female wards and now a third category has been added to for trans people. For the people who are coming from the green zone, they will be lodged in the aforementioned Govt Blind School which has a capacity of 24, and more will be added as per requirements. The entire logistics have been handled by the social welfare department.

What about other states?

This initiative by the state is one of the exemplary kind as most other states have been silent over the issue.

Also read: Manipur registers fresh COVID-19 case, tally rises to 26

Manipur’s neighbouring state Assam is yet to make any statements regarding the situation. The state so far been dormant regarding the issue to facilitate the trans people, as discussed by Swati Bidhan Baruah, Sr Advocate, and Trans activist to Inside Northeast. She also highlighted the vulnerability of trans people amid the corona pandemic. “If a trans person, I pray not, gets infected with the virus. What will be the course of action followed”, queried Baruah. “They have hormonal changes that need attention, Assam has done nothing so far”.

Although, Swati Bidhan Baruah, acknowledges the state govt’s intention of bringing the Transgender Policy but questions the implementation. Swati raises an important issue of the lack of a Transgender Board which ideally could have intervened in the situation to cater to the crisis. The Social Welfare Board of the state has been under slumber regarding the issue.

Meanwhile, Baruah has single handledly has been associated with the Centre to provide for food and other finances to the people affected by the lockdown.

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