Business to overcome bias

The second panel saw educationist Atri Kar from Tribeni narrate how she was once bullied by her colleagues, 14 teachers of a government school

By Chandreyee Ghose in Calcutta
  • Published 15.01.19, 1:12 PM
  • Updated 15.01.19, 1:12 PM
  • 2 mins read
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(From left) Vishnu Sureka, Bappaditya Mukherjee, Dolly Gupta, Kalki Subramanian, Rudrani Chettri and Sudipto Chatterjee at the first panel discussion on bullying and abuse faced by transgender persons Telegraph picture

Bullied in school, abandoned by parents and harassed at the workplace, the story is similar for most transgender persons. Several such tales of struggle and discrimination were shared at an entrpreneurship summit last week.

A National Institute of Fashion Design graduate, Diyasha Bhattacharya had to face much ridicule when she opened her own boutique in Howrah.

“Customers would openly taunt me when they walked into my boutique. My products fetched half the price they deserved,” said the 31-year-old who has worked with the likes of Agnimitra Paul.

Diyasha shared her tale of discrimination at the Third Eye Summit held at Hyatt Regency on Saturday. Organised by Sonali’s Cubo and curated by Vayjayanti Pugalia, the event aimed at addressing issues related to the third gender community and helping them in skill development and entrepreneurship.

Raina Roy, an activist and designer, has often faced abuse and even violence in her professional life. “I would be kept in the background in fashion shows,” she said.

Raina and Diyasha now plan to partner and create a new fashion line. They pitched their business idea at the summit.

Sumi Das, the founder of Moitrisanjog Society, came from Cooch Behar. “We run an organisation and teach our community members how to make mats and market them. Around 50 people are working under us and 70 learning the skill. This way we are trying to protect them from exploitation,” Sumi said.

Panel discussions, an art auction and a fashion show were part of the summit.

The first panel focused on bullying and mental harassment that most transgender persons face. The participants included model-activist Rudrani Chettri from Delhi and artist-life coach Kalki Subramanian from Tamil Nadu.

Rudrani, who has also opened a modelling agency for her community members, spoke about how few help a transgender person in distress. “I was once stopped from entering a mall. My agency, too, is yet to pick up. Not many are comfortable with transgender models in India,” said the managing trustee of Mitr Trust.

Kalki added how most people of the community accept bullying as a part of their lives. She spoke about her best friend, who was raped by seven people and could not seek justice. “I live with that scar. That anger has remained within me forever,” added the founder of Sahodari Foundation who also speaks at Harvard University.

The second panel saw educationist Atri Kar from Tribeni narrate how she was once bullied by her colleagues, 14 teachers of a government school.

Atri went on to write several competitive exams, including the civil services and the railway board, but always after a legal battle. “In most application forms, there is no “other” option in the gender section and that would result in a roadblock and fight before I could sit for the exam,” she said.

Dermatologist Dolly Gupta explained how abuse, bullying and discrimination result in a high rate of depression and suicides in the community.

“This summit incorporates the values of no discrimination. The LGBT community deserves as much love and acceptance as anyone else. The event hopes to open up a dialogue with this community and give them what they deserve,” said Pugalia, the curator of the show.

The summit was attended by Sadhan Pande, the state minister of consumer affairs, self-help group and self employment.