A gold medallist in women’s athletics, Pinki Pramanik found herself being accused of rape and subjected to a gender test last month. Speaking of the ordeal to Dola Mitra at her home in Calcutta after her release from prison, she broke down several times. Her mother, who was also present in the room, dismissed any “ambiguity” about Pinki’s gender—“She is just like all my other four daughters. Her original name was Jyotsna, which means moonlight, and she had a pink complexion, so we called her Pinki.”
What was your first reaction when it was said that you are a male and that you raped a woman?
The girl who brought these allegations had taken nude photographs of me and was threatening to make them public. She had been blackmailing me for some time, asking me to write my house in her name or give her 20 lakh rupees. She had also been stealing from me, and most recently, while I was sleeping, she stole the gold chain which I wear around my neck. But to be accused of being male and raping her shocked me.
The girl also claimed to be your partner. Did you love each other?
No. She was not my partner and we were not in love. She used to live next door on rent with her lover and her five-year-old child. The man left her two years ago and I took pity on her and told her she could stay with me as I live here alone. She used to do all the domestic chores of the house. When she started blackmailing me, my family warned me against her and told me to go to the police, but I didn’t throw her out for the sake of the little child. And if she loved me, would she do this to me? (Pinki breaks down.)
My trainers would give me testosterone injections...my voice grew deeper and I grew body hair.... How were you treated in custody?
When they arrested me, I was led away by two male police, who grabbed me by the arms. I told them, ‘I’m not going to run away. Please don’t manhandle me’. But they didn’t listen. I was also kept in the men’s prison, though in a separate cell. I was assigned one female guard, along with one male guard, during the 26 days that I was in jail. I did not want to undergo a gender test because it is humiliating. But they forcefully subjected me to it against my wishes. I was taken to a hospital and given an injection to make me fall asleep. When I awoke, I found my hands and feet tied to the bed and all my clothes removed.
It has been reported in the media that the gender test revealed you have “unformed” male genitals, though you were not capable of penetration.
I am not male. I have always been female. As a child, I used to look very sweet. I was a normal girl, like any other, and I wore clothes like that (pointing to my salwar kameez). But now I only wear these clothes (pointing to her track-pants and polo shirt). I look more male now because, as part of my training to compete in international athletics, I used to be regularly administered testosterone injections like other female participants. It was called Russian medicine. I was told that it was necessary to take these and I never questioned whether these were legal or not. I was focused on winning and did whatever I was asked to do by my trainers, who knew what was best for me. But after that my voice became deeper and I grew more body hair.
Do you ever regret the changes?
Since childhood, I dreamt of being a runner. I have won gold for my country and that means more to me than anything else.
Has the testosterone also altered the physical attraction you feel towards men and women?
Have you been in love?
Yes, I loved a man and he was an athlete too. But it didn’t work out. However, I don’t ever want to get married to a man. Not because I am attracted to women. But many people choose not to marry.
How do you feel now?
I have locked myself in my house I don’t want to go out or show my face. I feel naked and exposed.
I sympathise with Pinki Pramanik (Interview, Jul 30). Being born with a non-defined gender identity is not her fault. No one has the right to humiliate her so for this.
Nasar Ahmed, Karaikudi
It’s ridiculous that Pramanik was tested by force to prove her gender while the alleged victim has not even come forward to get herself tested.
Buddhadev Nandi, Bishnupur
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
This is shameful. If she has been trapped then strict actions need to be taken against those who are after her property and life. Every physical activity and sport needs special diet and at times supplements. , and they are bound to make some physical changes.
She is a renowned athelete and treating her this way will certainly be demoralising for other women athletes.
There is nothing more ridiculous when the accused rapist is tested forcefully whether he/she is potent enough to rape a woman but the alleged victim is spared. If Pinki raped her, she would not show eagerness to get the victim tested. On the other hand the victim should also come forward to help the police in this matter by getting her tested. If she does not do so, she should be nabbed immediatedly and brought to book for maligning Prinki Pramanik, a sports personality of international repute. Besides all those who are directly and indirectly involved in perpetrating physical, mental and psychological atrocities on Pinki should be dealt with high hand.
India is still yeons away in treating humans as humans.I feel deep sympathy for this person.Having born with both identities is not her fault and the Indian Govt meida and people need not humiliate her for which they have no right.This only reveals their cruel side.
Police in India are only following the British legacy.There is no end to his as we elect only criminals in elections after elections.
Pinki must undergo sex identity operation and try to lead a normal life after due consultations with psychologists and surgeons without any further delay.
Somebody just has to 'prove' that 'she' is 'female', and the media publishes her version of events verbattim, without even enquring/confirming with the accused!
Behaviour of the police department with the Pinki Pramanik has been absolutely inhuman and it is most unfortunate that an atheletic of international standards had to go through that sort of trauma as narreted. We can not blame the police staff at lower level but it is from the higher level officer who issue directions how the case is to be tackled.
There are many other female athletics who might have participated in International competitions together with PP. Were they also given the same testosterone injection and have all those been suffered with what Pinky has suffered .(physical changes )? .It needs to be thoroughly probed to check if any foul game has been played with PP
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