Tuesday April 16, 2024

Trans rights

By Editorial Board
September 15, 2020

A transgender person was killed by her 14-year-old brother while returning home in Swabi in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Sunday. The death has been taken up by transgender activists as evidence that the problem faced by those who belong to third gender, as it is officially known in Pakistan, continue to be victimized despite the string of laws, intended to protect them, and offer them equal rights alongside other citizens. But in reality, these laws which exist only on paper, mean very little. A few days ago, a transwoman Gul Panra was killed in Peshawar when persons opened fire on a group of transwomen in the Hayatabad area. She was taken to hospital, but died on the spot. Associations which represent transgender persons say that she was deliberately targeted alongside another transwoman, Rahat, who survived the attack.

The problem is a deep lying one. According to associations working for the rights of transgender people, since 2015 as many as 73 have been killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone. The community remains socially unaccepted, despite laws which give them the right to own a CNIC to vote and guarantees them jobs in government service and in other places, but in reality these rights are ignored. It is extremely difficult for most to secure any kind of work, even when they are educated.

The problem is not one that will go away quickly. Pakistan's society is rigid in its views about gender and the identity linked to it. It will need a great deal of social awareness alongside the law to change reality. The fact that a 14-year-old picked up a gun and chose to kill his trans-sister shows how deep-lying the problem is. We as a people need to realise how little protection is afforded to the most vulnerable among us. The problem is not just one of law enforcement and a lack of official action. It is our duty as citizens to create a society where all feel welcome and safe. The reason attacks on transgender persons are so common is because the perpetrators feel they have immunity for their actions. This should not be allowed to stand and we cannot just rely on the government to be the agent of change. From here on, new efforts will need to be raised, to create awareness and to make people aware that these persons need equal rights as other citizens of Pakistan, so that they can live with dignity and some degree of respect in a society where they have for a very long time been sidelined.