Unemployed and forced from their homes, many transgender individuals often turn to Khawaja Sira communities for shelter, food and acceptance. Within these communities, all transgender individuals are subject to a highly controversial Guru-Chela system. Hijras obey a leader, known as the Guru, who imposes a limited number of employment opportunities: prostitution, begging or dancing. The Guru takes a certain percentage of the Hijra’s earnings in exchange for accommodation, protection and acceptance. This guru culture has proven to be detrimental to the Hijras, as Gurus tend to sexually abuse vulnerable transgender youth, rather than act as guardians. Many Gurus encourage young transgender individuals to enter into prostitution and force them to beg on the streets, which exposes them to certain forms of sexual exploitation. Education is generally discouraged and repressed within the community, as it empowers Hijras and reduces their dependence on Gurus. Yet, individuals often have no choice but to join these communities since it is exceptionally difficult to live in a society where violence and abuse predominate. Thus, they prefer the Guru-Chela system, which gives them some protection.

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