Members of the transgender community in India, known better in the country as hijras, have taken part in an innovative advert in a campaign for drivers to wear safety beats while on the road.
The Seatbelt Crew are a group of Mumbai-based hijras, who have dressed up in this video as flight attendants. According to the World Health Organisation, only 27% of Indians wear their seatbelts, despite it being mandatory, and in a country notorious for treacherous roads. According to the World Bank, over 380 people are killed every day in road traffic accidents in India.
Hijras are a common sight in Indian cities, and recently, they were recognised officially as a third gender by the Indian Supreme Court. Many offer blessings in return for money at street corners, as they are seen to be sacred and good luck, although some drivers see them as a nuisance.
According to NPR’s Julie McCarthy:
The grim statistic was driven home late last month when Gopinath Munde, a Cabinet minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government, was killed in an early-morning car crash on the streets of New Delhi.
The hijras traditionally are viewed as auspicious, bestowing blessings on newlyweds and newborns. And their advocacy campaign to cut down on traffic fatalities appears to be a runaway hit: Since the public service announcement was launched online in early May, more than 4 million viewers have watched. Millions more have seen it on television.
“We are never scared to speak in front of a crowd or stand in the middle of traffic,” said Lata Tai, 36. The Seatbelt Crew member added, “This time instead of asking for money we are [promoting] road safety.”
H/T: Christoforos Pavlakis