Saturday, 11 July 2009

Help on way for Pakistan's Eunuchs

Pakistan's Oldest English Newspaper
By Nasir Iqbal Wednesday, 17 Jun, 2009 | 10:12 AM PST |

ISLAMABAD: Transgendered people in the country can hope for justice as the Supreme Court has ordered a survey of eunuchs to save them from a life of shame.

A bench of the court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmed and Justice Mahmood Akhtar Shahid Siddiqui, issued the order to the provincial governments on Tuesday while taking up a petition seeking the establishment of a commission to emancipate effeminate men who are ostracised by the society for no fault of theirs.

Islamist jurist Dr Mohammad Aslam Khaki filed the petition for the welfare of the unfortunate and vulnerable people left by the society to live by begging, dancing and prostitution. He took up their cause after police raided and arrested several eunuch-transvestites in Taxila recently.

Dr Khaki researched about the conditions of the ignominious merrymakers and discovered them to be the most oppressed and deprived segment of the society, subjected to humiliation and molestation.

On a query he told the court that there are about 80,000 eunuchs in Pakistan. Parents give their gender-confused children into the care of gurus (leaders of eunuchs) at a very tender age. They get no opportunity to education and instead are trained to beg, dance or forced into prostitution, according to the petitioner.

The court required the advocate generals of all the provinces to arrange a survey through provincial social welfare departments to compile facts and figures about eunuchs. The departments would also evaluate facilities available to hermaphrodite children and determine the offence their parents commit in handing them over to gurus (eunuch leaders) at the time of their birth.

Transgendered people are misunderstood and ridiculed for being born in the wrong body and are condemned to exist at the bottom rung of Pakistan’s social ladder. The court order requires the social welfare departments to register particulars of the eunuchs, learn about the children living with them and find out the circumstances or compulsions that forced the parents to give them into the care of gurus.

‘Practically such children are under constant habeas corpus since they cannot leave their gurus and compelled to do whatever ordered against their will,’ Dr Khaki said while talking to Dawn. They live in sizeable communities, divided into clan groups, and mostly in slums, he said.

Such people are even denied their right to inheritance and civil rights. They cannot travel freely in trains, buses or use facilities available to common citizens of the country. The court asked the provincial governments to submit detailed report and decided to take up the matter again after four weeks.

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