Transgenders given government jobs in Sindh

The Supreme Court of Pakistan recognised the third sex, thus giving almost one and a half million Pakistani transgenders a legal identity, but they still face prejudice, discrimination and violence. A report in an English Daily says that three TGs have been given government jobs.

Rifee Khan,  Mazhar Anjum and Muskan  are three members of the transgender community  who, in an unprecedented step, were  offered jobs by the Sindh government recently.

When Rifee Khan approached a premier spoken English training institute in  Karachi, it refused to enrol her as she was a transgender. The institute  instead suggested that she take private lessons as the families of other students would object to her presence.

Ms Khan, who works for the Gender Interactive Alliance, says “I am educated. I have a double M.A.,  yet this is how I was treated,” she said.

The government is also organising a vocational training workshop for the transgender community on February 20.

The Gender Interactive Alliance has demanded that a TG representative  be nominated to provincial assemblies.

Despite a landmark Supreme Court judgment that recognised the transgenders; right to equality and inheritance, and their right to be registered as the third gender or “khwaja seras” in the National Database and Registration Authority, the community faces discrimination.

Muhammad Majid Bashir, a senior advocate, said the landmark 2011 verdict allowed a third gender category on national identity cards, gave transgenders a legal share in family inheritance, reserved two per cent quota in jobs in all sectors and gave them the right to vote in the elections.

But as Almas Boby of the Transgender Foundation pointed out, the biggest issue for the community is social acceptance. She could not study beyond matriculation due to social pressure. However, separate schools for transgenders will isolate the community further, she said. “Please accept us and let us be part of society.”

Family support crucial

Transgender people live in a tenuous position in conservative Pakistan, where the roles of the sexes are traditionally starkly drawn. Families often push them out of the home when they’re young, forcing many to prostitute themselves to earn a living.

One role where they are tolerated is as dancers at weddings and other celebrations at which men and women are strictly segregated. In between the dancing and showers of rupee notes, they must fend off groping from drunken guests.

“I don’t understand why people feel it is their duty to tease and taunt us,” said one transgender Pakistani who goes by the name Symbal. Many in the transgender community pick a name for themselves and do not use their last name to protect their family.

Others beg on the streets or earn money by blessing newborn babies. The blessings reflect a widespread belief in Pakistan and other South Asian nations that God answers the prayers of someone who was born underprivileged, said Iqbal Hussain, a Pakistani researcher who has studied the transgender community. But he cautioned that didn’t mean people were ready to give them equal rights.

Ms Khan said families should support children who have a different sexual  orientation. Her family supported her which is why she could study. But  many families disowned their children who had no option but to beg or dance for a livelihood, she lamented.

Jannat Ali, who has an MBA and heads the Khwaja Sera Society, runs a  literary project which imparts teaching skills to young people so that they don’t have to beg on the streets. She says it is difficult for transgenders to continue schooling, thanks to the social attitude – children are taunted and many are reluctant to go to school.

The access of the community to health care is a challenge too, said Ms Khan. “We are not even allowed to stand in queues, how can we get treatment?”

For the 1.5 million transgender community, social acceptance is certainly a long way off.

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Posted by on February 9, 2014. Filed under Breaking News,Pakistan,SOUTH-ASIA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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