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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 99-107

Molestation of the Bengali Hijras of India: Case of hiatus between social support and mental depression

Department of Geography, SSM College, Keshpur, Paschim Medinipur, West Bengal; Department of Population Studies, Fakir Mohan University, Balasore, Odisha, India

Correspondence Address:
Sibsankar Mal
R-34/2 Saratpally, Dak Bungalow Road, Midnapore, Paschim Medinipur - 721 101, West Bengal
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jmhhb.jmhhb_18_19

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Background: The Hijra community has evolved to form a unique subculture within the Indian society. They are particularly vulnerable to adverse mental health outcomes, such as depression. They are socially excluded and deprived from social well-being. Objectives: This study examined mental health outcomes, androgyny-related molestation, perceived social support, and predictors of depression among Bengali Hijras of India. Methodology: An exploratory cum descriptive research design with a nonprobability purposive sampling was adopted including the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support to assess depression. Results: Overall, 80% of Hijras reported at least one instance of molestation; around 69% approved depressive omens. Social support emerged as the most significant predictor of depressive syndromes (P < 0.05), whereby Bengali Hijras experiencing higher levels of overall perceived social support tended to approve lower levels of depressive syndromes. Discussion: Contrary to expectations, molestation did not reach statistical significance as an independent risk factor of depression (P = 0.058), whereas some other Hijra-specific predictors were found to be statistically significantly associated with depressive symptoms (P < 0.05). The pervasiveness of molestation, depression, and suicidal attempts represents a major health concern and highlights the necessity to facilitate prosperity-sensitive, health-care dispensation. Conclusion: The study suggests that perceptions of social support among Bengali Hijras have very important implications upon one's likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms. Therefore, this study may support the implementation of programs or actions to improve the mental health of Bengali Hijras.

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