Sexual harassment is still one of the barriers for women to freely work and develop their careers. A woman named Petchiammal in India even disguised herself as a man in order to earn money in peace. This was done for the sake of the child after her husband suddenly died.
Petchiammal’s story is proof of how women from all over the world are not completely safe at work and even in activities. Pechiammal admitted that he had to disguise himself as a man in order to be free from sexual harassment and be able to earn money to eat. This was done by a woman from Thoothukudi, for 36 years until she changed her gender identity on her identity card.
“I lost my husband, Siva, 15 days after the wedding. I was only 20 years old when I gave birth to Shanmugasundari. I decided not to remarry but raising my own child was difficult. I worked in a building construction, hotel and tea shop. But I get abused in those places,” he said.
Petchiammal Foto: Dok. The New Indian Express
Having to keep looking for an income despite facing harassment, Pachiammal finally decided to change his identity. It is said that he went to the Tiruchendur Murugan Temple and changed into a shirt and lungi or sarong, and called himself Muthu.
“We have lived in Kattunayakkanpatti for 20 years. Only close relatives in the village and my son know that I am a woman,” he said.
Even though he had planned not to remarry, now Petchiammal has met someone who can be his companion. But because she has disguised herself as a man for a long time, the 57-year-old woman is already comfortable and not ready to return to being feminine.
“This identity aims to ensure a safe life for my child. I will be Muthu until I die,” said the woman listed as a man on the identity card.
Unfortunately Petchiammal’s masquerade as a man also had an unpleasant impact. She admitted that her body was tired from manual labor and could not ask for financial assistance as a widow. “I don’t have a house or savings. I can’t get a widow certificate either. Since I’m too old to work, I asked the government for financial assistance,” she said.
(ami / ami)