Thursday, 16 July 2009

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Islamic Jurist Leading the Way in Tolerating Transvestites

By Nasir Iqbal in DAWN.COM - Pakistan's Oldest English Daily News
Wednesday, 15 Jul, 2009 | 09:00 AM PST |

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has ordered that transvestites, being equal citizens of Pakistan, should also benefit from the federal and provincial governments’ financial support schemes such as the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).

‘They are citizens of Pakistan and enjoy the same protection guaranteed under Article four (rights of individuals to be dealt with in accordance of law) and Article nine (security of person) of the Constitution,’ ruled a three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Muhammad Sair Ali and Justice Jawwad S Khawaja on Tuesday.

The bench had taken up the petition seeking establishment of a commission to emancipate effeminate men ostracised by the society for no fault of theirs.

Islamic jurist Dr Mohammad Aslam Khaki, who researched on the conditions of the ignominious merrymakers and discovered them to be the most oppressed and deprived segment of the society and subjected to humiliation and molestation, had filed the petition for the welfare of the transvestites left by the society to live by begging, dancing and prostitution.

Parents give their hermaphrodite children into the care of gurus (leaders of transvestites) at a very tender age who abuse them instead of providing them the opportunity to get education.

Dr Khaki took up their cause after police raided and arrested several transvestites in Taxila recently, pleading before the court that being a welfare state it was the responsibility of the government to look after this community. He told the court that Shoaib Mansoor who produced a blockbuster film ‘Khuda ka Liya’ was also planning to come up with another movie to highlight the miserable lives of the these people.

During the proceedings, Roop and Shazia along with their community representatives appeared before the court to narrate harrowing details of abuse they receive from the society, police and gangsters mainly because of their weak financial conditions, especially when their fathers and brothers did not accept them as family members.

‘My appearance before the court today may cost me my life,’ Shazia feared, saying already she was receiving threats from different quarters. ‘Once I was implicated in a false case and subjected to immense sexual torture by the police in their custody,’ she alleged.

The court asked the federal as well as the provincial governments to help them overcome their financial difficulties by supporting them from programmes like the BISP and Baitul Mal or provincial support programmes so that they could adopt a respectable livelihood.

The court also asked the petitioner to negotiate with the non-governmental organisations working in social sectors to devise some welfare programmes for the transvestites.

The provincial social welfare departments were also asked to come up with suggestions for the uplift of these people to reduce their miseries and difficulties.

To protect them from thugs or goons, the apex court ordered the law-enforcers to provide security to these people so that that their rights were not violated. The court also asked senior police officials to take action against delinquent police officers who harass the transvestites.

The court directed the provincial social welfare departments to complete the survey and registration of transvestites to save them from the life of shame.

Both the petitioner and transvestites present in the court said they were compelled to lead an immoral life by offering themselves for dancing or prostitution and they were also required to pay handsome amount to self-styled gurus or to the police.

‘We are not accepted anywhere in the society and degraded and humiliated everywhere,’ the transvestites said.

The bench remarked that being Muslims as well as human beings, parents of such gender-confused children should look after them without discrimination but, it lamented, they throw them on roads to suffer throughout their lives.

The court also expressed surprise that one of the computerised national identity card of the eunuch bears a photograph of a female but in the gender column, she was recognised as male.

The court adjourned the proceedings till third week of August.

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