Pakistan in protecting the Transgender Community

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By: Afrasiab Ahmed Rana

Our society is open for only two genders, any other gender beyond male and female is not acceptable to our society. The transgenders have struggled over the ages to get themselves register as a district gender. Social, political and legal battles were borne by transgenders to get themselves recognized in society. In 2014 Supreme Court of India came up with a historical decision and acknowledged transgender as a distinct gender i.e “The Third Gender” yet the third gender has not gained that much status in the society.
Transgenders are one of the most neglected portions of society. Neither the Lawmakers nor the society has had any soft corner for the Third Gender. Ironically, the Third Gender is not only deprived in developing societies but in developed societies also lacks development as to recognition and rights of the third gender. Even 20 States of Europe require gender sterilization.
While focusing on Pakistan we have a different case. The Third Gender is socially deprived but has somehow gained some legislative attention. Allegedly census 2017 has not given true numbers of the third gender in Pakistan, as claimed by “Khawaja Sara Society”, they are more than half of a million in Pakistan but the census 2017 shown 10,418 as their number nationally in Pakistan.

There might be a huge criticism on society as to treatment of the third gender but Pakistan shall be given credit to be the pioneer in protecting the rights of the third gender by legislative development. In May 2018 the Parliament passed “The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018.” This bill was a unique piece of legislation and gained international recognition. The Act was highly celebrated by the Transgender and they called it a ray of life for them.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018

The Act provided the third gender a definition and recognition, it provided them with recognition of the inviolable and fundamental rights already open citizens of Pakistan. It was a true victory for them that they got their rights which were publicly available to all others but were not for them.
Section 3 of the act given the Third Gender an opportunity to select a gender of their choice for them. The act also provided them an opportunity to get themselves registered with NADRA.
Chapter III prohibits 8 acts of discrimination against the Trans community. The harassment both within and outside of the home was prohibited and penalized. The government of Pakistan was made responsible for assuring indiscrimination and removal of harassment against the Trans community. Even the Government was required to build separate cells for the Trans prisoners.
Inheritance of the third gender was under debate as there was no full-fledged procedure in personal laws for a share of the Transgender in the estate of a deceased. This Act provided a definite share of the transgender in the inheritance.
The act guaranteed the Fundamental rights to the third gender already provided to them via the Constitution of Pakistan. Article 25A of the Constitution of Pakistan ensures the right of education for citizens of Pakistan. The same was ensured for the Trans by this act. 9 other rights were protected including the right to vote and holding of public office and many other valuable rights.
The best part of the act was that it was provided with enforcement mechanisms and penalties.
Trans are humans, not beggars, the act upheld the same. The act provided punishment or sentence up to six months or with fine up to 50, 000 or both whoever would push the third gender for begging.
To sum up, Pakistan has done a fabulous job as to the provision and protection of the rights of the Trans. Even India passed an act with the same aims and objectives a year later in 2019.
Now the need of the day is that society in Pakistan shall recognize the very existence of the Trans and their rights.
I hope that the executive is successful in the execution of the said act.

Afrasiab Ahmed Rana is independent researcher and advocate practicing at Kot Momin (Sargodha).

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