"Kothis" (Feminized Males) Reducing Risk to HIV and Sexual Violence

Published: September 30, 2010

Having faced ages of neglect, denial and invisibility, "Kothis" (feminised males) are now being mobilized by groups like ‘Bharosa’ in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh (India) to be empowered and demonstrate leadership in reaching out within their community for increasing access to essential services including HIV prevention, care, treatment and support services. They are routinely encouraged to practice safer sexual practices and protect themselves from any kind of abuse or exploitation.

Kothis, or feminised males, are unique and don’t necessarily identify with gender identities of man, woman, or other identities now increasingly getting accepted like those of gays or men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM).

Kothis are neither gays nor eunuchs and because of this, theyare outcasts in these groups and several rungs lower in social status. Thus, sans any rights within the said group, they are often severely exploited and abused.

The gay group often considers them uncouth and crass while the Hijra community usually refuses to accept them as they are not anatomically qualified to join their brood. The general population where sexual or gender identity other than the man or woman is often not accepted, is most unlikely to accept Kothis exist in the society.

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