A team of 20 transgender women, including former sex workers, have been employed by police to give advice to motorists who violate traffic rules. The initiative is to improve discrimination and provide work for transexuals in India.
One of the transgender women called Bobby, a former sex worker, offers flowers, chocolates and a quick reminder of the highway code to motorists in Delhi. "I am a sex worker. I was hesitant when I got to know that I will be closely working with Delhi traffic cops and learn traffic rules. Although I accepted the chance, I was worried about how it would work out," she told Mail Today.
"To my surprise, this is going to change my life for good. I am quitting my profession as a sex worker and getting employed at a respectable place."
The transgender women worked closely with the Delhi Legal Service Authority (DLSA) and Delhi Traffic Police. "The two-day training with the traffic police has been very useful. We got to know so many things that commuters do not follow like wearing gloves and full length shirts to minimise chances of getting any injury in an accident.
"The first thing I did after the training was over was sensitise my sister who rides a two wheeler," said one participant.
A similar initiative in Mumbai was very successful and the DLSA and Delhi Traffic Police are hopeful that the initiative will gain popularity among commuters. "This unique initiative is an attempt to break ice and stereotypes people have about transgenders and at the same time sensitise them on traffic safety.
"The move will help the transgender community gain confidence and inspire them to live life with dignity," said a senior DLSA official.
The scheme is an opportunity for transgender women to survive financially, rather than be forced into prostitution. "People like us who have been begging on the signals have faced hatred, stigma and ignorance. The hands that were used for begging will now direct the traffic signal.
"It is a revolution. We seek action from policy makers and not just promises. Our lives matter and so does our right to earn with dignity," said Abhina Aher, a transgender activist.