Astana can accommodate six people at a time and an inmate can stay for a maximum of six days
The first-ever facility for the transgender community in the country that will provide temporary shelter to its members, including those driven away from their homes upon coming out in the open, opened in Kolkata on Wednesday.
The shelter, called Astana, is located in south Kolkata and can accommodate six people at a time. It has been set up with the support of private citizens sympathetic to the cause of the transgender community.
“It will serve those members from the community who urgently need a roof over their head. It could be those thrown out by the landlord, or those who get thrown out of their homes once they come out in the open. The National Human Rights Commission’s 2019 report says that only 2% of trans-children get to stay on with their parents once they attain puberty,” said Ranjita Sinha, who runs the Association of Transgender/Hijra in Bengal.
“The shelter has been built with the help of contributions from people who support our cause: professors, businessmen, businesswomen, working professionals. Despite various court rulings, the government — be it the Central or the State government — has done nothing concrete till date for the betterment of the third gender,” said Ms. Sinha, who is also a member of the West Bengal Transgender Development Board and on the National Task Force for the community.
“We will run it for a year; after that we will propose to the State government to take it over,” she said.
The facility has a functional kitchen. An inmate can stay in the shelter for a maximum of six days; during this period they will receive professional help for their physical and mental health and given legal support too.
“Everybody is talking about the mental health of [actor] Sushant Singh Rajput, but it is the mental health of people from the community that needs to be looked into. We are the ones to suffer rejection and humiliation on a daily basis,” Ms. Sinha stated.