Kerala Transwoman Who Started Biryani Shop to Survive Pandemic Harassed by Local Shopkeepers
A transwoman in Kochi was harassed for trying to sell biryani | Image credit: Facebook
In a disturbing incident, a transwoman from Kochi, Kerala, has been harassed for selling biryani.
Sajana Shaji had been trying to make ends meet during the pandemic by selling biryani. Shaji had even provided employment to four other transwomen and was managing to make a living.
For over a month, however, Shaji and her employees had been facing harassment from the local shopkeepers and vendors. Shaji, who had taken loans from several meat and grocery sellers to set up her shop, took to Facebook on Monday and related the tale of abuse.
In the video, Shaji said that she was harassed by a man called Gireesh who sells fish snacks opposite her stall. To drive away her customers, Gireesh had been spreading rumours about the quality of her biryani. This resulted in massive losses for the biryani shop.
A tearful Shaji said in her Facebook Live that her shop usually sold 300 packets of biryani a day. But after the rumours, out of 150 packets of biryani, her shop could only sell 20. Complaining about the amount of food wasted, Shaji said, "People keep asking us to work and live a decent life, instead of begging on trains and roaming the streets at night. But if the society does not allow us to work respectfully, then what are we supposed to do".
News portal The News Minute reported that despite repeated requests and complaints, police refused to help Shaji and her group out. It was only after her video went viral on Facebook that Shaji's plight reached the media and the Hill Palace Police finally lodged an FIR in the case.
The pandemic has hit the transgender population hard in several states. With jobs drying up due to the coronavirus lockdown and persisting prejudice and discrimination despite laws, the community is struggling to find its feet.