SOOE was formed with the primary objective of providing a platform for expressing and understanding the rather unique circumstances that eunuchs find themselves in, leading to the alleviation of their problems.
The organisation includes senior corporate executives and professionals from management, media and law. Also on the Board of Members are eunuchs, since this is vital in gaining the proper perspective for identifying the distinct issues pertaining to the eunuch community in India and redressing them in the Indian social context.
Though the activities of the group have continued informally through the years, a need was felt to lend a formal structure to their activities and as a result, a Non Government Organisation was formally registered in January 2011 under the name of ‘Salvation Of Oppressed Eunuchs’ (SOOE). The organisation aims to carry on the aims and objectives of the founder members and enhance its activities, while adhering to the principles of transparency and equitable development of the eunuch community.
The organisation has been actively working with the eunuch community since 2007, when a group of professionals, who were well settled in society, felt the need to look beyond the confines of their routine existence as the means to discharging their yearning for social and humanitarian causes. Realizing the need to focus on the requirements of eunuchs as a distinct community, they started with the oft repeated dictum of ‘A sound mind in a sound body’. Activities were commenced with the organisation of a health camp for eunuchs in Virar, a distant suburb of Mumbai. During this, free health check-up by qualified medical practitioners and medicines were provided to them as the first step towards enhancing the quality of life for eunuchs. The camp also included the promotion of good health practices among them, since this would address many health issues faced by the community.
The initial success established a base upon which, the scope of activities was gradually expanded to include the provision of basic necessities, such as food and clothing, as well as arranging education classes for the promotion of literacy.
With no regular source of income or employment, eunuchs mostly earn their livelihood by begging, conferring their blessings or soliciting clients. The use of alcohol and other intoxicants is very frequent in the eunuch community as well as in clients approaching them for sexual pleasure, resulting in unprotected sex for the most part. This places them at very high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. SOOE volunteers undertook comprehensive studies of these subjects and discovered that at least a tenth of all eunuchs suffer from tuberculosis. Although no official records exist to establish the connection, it is very obvious that this is due to the presence of HIV/AIDS. SOOE organises seminars on a regular basis, in coordination with prominent health journalists and activists, to make eunuchs aware of the risks of unprotected sex.
A basic impediment to the rehabilitation of eunuchs in society in general and the implementation of a lasting solution for their issues stems largely from their exclusion from the shared social fabric. The integration of the eunuch community into general society is precluded by the ignorance of the public at large about this particular section of humanity. Most people know next to nothing about them and their reaction to the sight of these unfortunates has its origins in the fanciful, derogatory and slanderous misconceptions that have been handed down through the generations. If eunuchs are to form a part of society, then the common man has to at least possess proper information about them and realise that they are also ‘regular’ humans. By providing information about this community through audio-visual media, SOOE hopes to make the common man aware of the hardships faced by the eunuch community on a daily basis, with a view to addressing their issues.
To achieve this objective of dissemination of information, the organisation has followed a twin pronged strategy; the commissioning of:
- A book that provides relevant and comprehensive information about eunuchs and their community in India. The book addresses the social as well as medical aspects of eunuchs and contains exclusive photographs and information in order to promote better understanding about them
- A documentary about the circumstances that lead to a eunuch being driven out of his home and forced into leading a shadowy existence in this community. The film provides exhaustive and accurate depiction of a eunuch’s life in the community, deprived of any semblance of dignity and self-respect.
The book titled ‘Life of a Eunuch’ and documentary titled ‘…Aur Neha Nahi Bik Payi’ will be released on June 06, 2011 at the annual function of eunuchs in Ajmer called Urs.
As a means of opening up the interactive process, SOOE organizes tours of eunuchs to various religious places like Shirdi, Ajmer, Mehsana etc. Recently, SOOE also organised a tour of about 8 eunuchs to a prominent bank’s elite branch at Nariman Point, Mumbai, in order to familiarise them with the basics of banking services.
SOOE realises that the first step towards empowerment is the development of self esteem. There is still a need to formulate and implement programs aimed at establishing eunuchs ‘on their feet’, so that they are not despised and considered as parasites. The answer lies not in the provision of largesse that is dependent upon external factors but rather in the promotion of activities and industry among eunuchs that establish a firm foundation for them to become self-reliant, address and resolve their issues internally.
SOOE proposes to promote such activities and industry by the eunuch community through the provision of a platform for identifying, implementing and managing appropriate avenues of self-sustenance in the long term. It is only by being considered as productive members of society that eunuchs will be accorded the respect and dignity that are the fundamental right of every human. SOOE organises interactive gatherings of eunuchs and members of the general society so that they are better able to appreciate the issues relevant to their communities and integration with each other.
Towards this end, SOOE invites the participation of people, first by educating themselves about this much maligned community and second by participating in and lending their support to activities aimed at the progress and development of self-reliance among eunuchs.
SOOE wishes to thank all those who have lent their support to its cause and will always strive to justify the faith reposed in the organisation.