Rampant discrimination against third gender in KP


Peshawar: Human rights violations against the transsexuals are commonplace in KP. They remain the snubbed and affronted community across the country. Mostly they are invited for different events to dance and please the audiences with their performances. Since the beginning of year 2017, transgenders in KP, despite being the first ever province of the country even in south Asia to have a protection policy for transgender, are facing more cases of violence against their community members.

Transgender is a person with somatic sex uncertainty due to a disorder of sex development (DSD) known as third gender (khunsa). Two type of khunsa is musykil (intractable) and wadhih (discernible), in classical Islamic law there are four genders among human being. Male, female, DSD/intersex (khunsa), and the effeminate male (mukhannath) (Haneef, 2011).

Ibrar Ghani, an Islamic scholar, says, “There are two types of khunsa, problematic and non-problematic. Non-problematic can easily be identified by genitals who assigned a specific sex in which genital organ is more dominant. For instance a person urinates from penis, ejaculates semen and grows facial hair can be regarded as male. If this person has menstruation and develops breasts can be regarded as female.” And, in Islam eliminating of sex ambiguity medically is permissible for DSD persons only. Problematic kind one is not easily categorized as male or female but this is still under debate, he added.

According to 2017 census, the national population consists of more than 10, 000 transsexuals. Provincial distribution shows that more than half of the transgenders belong to Punjab, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has around 913 transgenders in various districts. With reference to the government officials’ note, there is no such detail in the census about transgenders in the districts and council levels, what we get is only rural and urban figures.

Farzana Jan (Transwomen) President of Trans Actions Alliance told News lens Pakistan that despite being member of the team that imposed protection laws for the transpersons, where they were promised separate living space, wards in hospitals, skills development opportunities and, around twenty crore rupees, yet no single promise has been implemented and remain only on paper.

Jan raises a question that if transgenders are disinherited by their own families then what they do and where to go to survive?  Ghani iterated that there is no such Islamic verse about disinheriting of such DSD persons; this is all our cultural prejudice and nothing more.

In the absence of opportunities, spaces and optimism for transgender despairingly continue to dance, sing and as work as sex-workers to earn food to live but the violent incidents they faced make them strain to live in the very society they inhibit. For instance there is still confusion on part of the doctors to register them in the men or women ward in hospitals, who misbehave with them as well.

“Reporting any violence in a police stations are big challenge for us as they were tell us ye koyee naye baat nahi if the same violence happened against any women/man having more attentions and privileges but when it comes against us it has no value for them despite under the same constitution of Pakistan,” said Farzana.

The undergoing violence against transgenders shows that they have no right of movement across the country to settle; despite constitution of Pakistan article 15 for “freedom of movement” every citizen of Pakistan has the right to move to any place of the country without such restriction or use of force. But many cases were found in Swat, Mardan, Swabi, Nowshera and Bannu about profiling and arrests of transgenders by local police are unjustifiable. Police were seen to threaten them to leave the place without any evidence of any wrongdoing.

This is not the first time that security forces have misused their authority and power especially against the underdogs of this country. When it comes to the transgender, the only segment of the public in Pakistan who continually face social discrimination, they live in a state of constant ostracism, including disowning from their families and evictions from their abodes.

A local police officer, not willing to be named, told News lens pakistan that they receive many of the complaints from locals against the trans-persons, as they have concern about HIV/AIDS. The police discovered that most of the trans-persons are sex workers and HIV/AIDS positive, so they had to decide for the well-being and safety of both parties: the transgender or locals. “All of them have equal rights and we are not against any particular group or community, but this is in front of you, their medical condition and their activities. We even have video evidence in which they are deliberately trying to capture men on the roads,” says the anonymous officer.

The eviction of transsexuals from a town constitutes the violation of article 15 of the constitution of Pakistan, as without the acknowledgment of the parliament no one has the power to implement such rules and regulations arbitrarily. The concerned authority is responsible to regulate rules to avoid such violation of human rights and constitution of Pakistan.

In 2009, the Supreme Court of Pakistan carried out a formative decision about transgenders dignity and declared them as third-gender under the equal protection clause of constitution. Article 25 states that “there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex.” Further Supreme Court stated that “on account of transgender disorder in their bodies” they have been become neglected persons. Sometimes their own families disinherit them, as they were neither daughters nor sons. To avoid such gender discrimination the court ordered federal and provincial governments to protect identity of transgender, right to vote, right to inherit, right to employment and right to education equally.

However, after the addition of gender identity in national identity card with “X,” the Saudi government announce banned on visa of Ummrah and Hajj. A transgender having identity of “X” in identity card and passport will never ever perform Hajj or Ummrah.

Life for Farzana and her peers is balancing a tight rope. The society will continue to discriminate them if the state is unwilling to keep her promises. The policies protecting the rights of the transpeople need to be enacted in their true vigour enabling opportunities and space for third gender for their better economic participation, as it could lead to public empathy and acceptance for those deemed different.


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