Indian Court Rejects Claim That 'Eunuch' Mayor Is A Woman

By Deepak Mahaan | July 7, 2008 | 8:12pm EDT

New Delhi (CNSNews.com) - In a judgment that could have far-reaching legal ramifications, an Indian district court has unseated a eunuch from his mayoral post over a dispute about his gender.

Kamla Jaan Mausi became mayor of a town called Katni in central India in December 1999, after winning municipal elections for a seat reserved for women.

But District Court Judge Virendra Singh has now ruled that Kamla was in fact a male, and that his election to post of mayor was therefore "null and void."

The case was brought at the instigation of a woman candidate who was defeated in the election. She challenged Kamla's right to have run in the first place.

Kamla belongs to a loose Indian grouping, several hundred thousand strong, known as Hinjras (from a word meaning impotent), comprising mainly castrated men or homosexuals.

Some claim to have been born hermaphrodites, while there are reports that others have been forcibly castrated.

Like many Hinjras, Kamla dressed as a woman and referred to himself as such. He stood for a seat reserved for females under a campaign aimed at increasing the participation of women in democratic institutions.

In reaching his decision, the judge took into account banking and property documentation referring to Kamla as the son of an Indian by the name of Nihora Guru.

Folk traditions hold eunuchs to be neither men nor women, but members of a "third sex."

They tend to leave - or be shunned by - their families and to live together in communal groups.

Hinjras are thought to have the ability to invoke blessings, and often show up uninvited at weddings and after births to offer a blessing - for a fee.

Even while they are considered to bring "good luck," they are also feared and rejected by many.

In recent years, however, some have emerged as serious political candidates, seen by voters as an alternative to corrupt and self-serving politicians.

"People are looking to any savior who can rectify the corrupt bureaucratic system," explained sociology professor Rajeev Gupta of the University of Rajasthan.

"Since eunuchs have no family and are generally felt to be an honest class - however crude and crass - people expect them to break the shackles of an overbearing system," he said.

Presently there are six eunuchs serving in elected capacities in various parts of the country, including one who is a lawmaker in a state legislature and several mayors.

Many voters disenchanted with the system feel eunuchs make good representatives and work hard.

Some eunuchs have been considering forming their own political party to strengthen the group against difficulties like the ones that have unseated Katni's mayor.

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