Meet Boby. She has lost track of the precise number of times she has been gang-raped. She thinks it is between eight and ten. “Every time it has been without a condom,” she says. “Every time I was badly beaten.”
As a transgender sex worker in India’s capital city Delhi, the smiling, unabashed 25-year-old lives under a constant threat of HIV infection which she can only do so much to control.
She felt like an “alien” before she came to live in Delhi at the age of 18. In the capital, she says, she can dress as she pleases and “no one will pick on me in the street”.
Boby is not alone in her vulnerability. Across the world, the transgender population are left highly vulnerable, both to violence and to HIV. Often, transgender women are too scared to seek support and protection before it’s too late.
For our #AIDSfree campaign, which spotlights six key cities around the world, Boby spoke to @the.independent at the Samarth clinic, an outwardly unassuming centre on the outskirts of the capital run by the India HIV/AIDS Alliance and supported by the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Samarth’s goal is to target communities that have been missed by the behemoth of India’s public anti-AIDS operation. For while the country as a whole reports a relatively low prevalence rate of just 0.2 per cent, that rises to 7.4 per cent among transgender women.
Donate now to help us keep supporting centres like the Samarth clinic in our fight for an #AIDSfree future.
Donate now through at aidsfree.ejaf.org.
Every donation will be doubled by the UK government, up to £2m #UKAidMatch @DFID_UK.