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Transgender in Pakistan, By Mahwish Akhtar

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Transgender in Pakistan

Transgender in Pakistan. By: Mahwish Akhtar.

Transgender (also referred to as khusra) reflects a group of people who enjoy the least amount of respect or rights in Pakistan. Due to the controversial nature and typical mindset of people, the subject of Transgender rights in Pakistan is not even discussed in sophisticated circles. Most people do not even consider them as a part of their community; massive rejections are often faced by transgenders in almost all the parts of Pakistan.

According to recent research studies conducted on transgenderism, approximately one out of 50 children are identified with a transgender tendency/ potential. In other words, about 2 percent population of Pakistan is affected by transgenderism.

In our society, transgenders are usually first identified by the families. The community often mistakes them as pre-homosexuals and most Pakistani families become aggressive towards them. For example, strict warnings are given to them to change their attitude and most of them are rejected by their communities and loved ones.

I have often wondered why it is that generally there is hatred for ‘transgender’ in Pakistan. The term means different things to different people. At a very basic it means being born not knowing which gender you belong to.

A myth seems to have formed that they cannot do any work except for sing and dance. I wonder who started this, the downwards spiral of degradation. Now they are not treated as equal, they live in secluded communities with their own kind, often in extreme poverty. Most are uneducated as the notion of a transgender child being brought up in a normal household and studying in a mainstream school is not an acceptable reality.

As Pakistanis, we need to realize that this is not merely a war that these individuals have to fight they are human beings, just like us, and deserve as much of a right to education and these individuals have voices that are not heard by anyone. We need to be the voice that speaks on their behalf, fights for their rights and makes living for them less painful.

EXAMPLE:

Riffie Khan has a Double Master’s degree from Shah Abdul Latif University in Shikarpur in Economics and Political Sciences. However, despite her academic achievements, she has been unable to hold down a job.

In 2003, Khan was forced to leave her job at the National Medical Centre in Karachi, where she worked as front desk officer, because she did not fit in.

Khan is one of many transgender people in the country who suffer in their professional and personal lives due to discrimination. “It’s the educated people that upset me the most,” she says. “When they discriminate against people like me, it hurts even more.”

RIGHTS OF TRANSGENDER

The answer is pretty straightforward. Transgenders and LGBT community are considered as a sign of shame and disgrace in the Pakistani culture. Most of these individuals never get a chance to acquire education in the regular schools due to discriminatory treatment and disgusting attitude of fellow citizens.

Consequently, most of these individuals have no other option, but to make their living by singing and dancing alongside the road or in private parties. Additionally, transgenders are usually not encouraged to live amongst regular mohalla’s. They are bound to establish their own colonies outside of regular communities.

There are several other issues that are faced by transgenders in Pakistan; such as:

  • There is no government aid or support system to help these individuals live a normal life.
  • Government institutions and other governing bodies are known to harass these individuals.
  • In case of any criminal victimization or even sexual harassment, these individuals get no help/ support from the community or government institutions.
  • Due to literally no job opportunities and financial security, most members of the transgender community is forced to make their living by prostitution.

Current Legislative Situation for Transgender Rights in Pakistan

In last elections, many transgenders in Pakistan wrote the history by casting their vote to choose their political representative. This decision of Supreme Court was successfully presided by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr. Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry.

In 2009, Supreme Court also passed the order of including the category of ‘third gender’ in the national identity card form. Transgenders in Pakistan were awarded the right to REGISTER as a third gender on their CNICs in 2012. a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, ruled that the transgender community is equally entitled to rights guaranteed in the Constitution to all citizens, including the right of inheritance after the death of parents, job opportunities, free education and health care.

However, while their rights are guaranteed on paper, members of the transgender community say they do not have these rights in practice and provincial welfare departments have yet to implement the decision.

As a result, they continue to face discrimination from society. They largely depend on a livelihood of singing and dancing at weddings and birth celebrations. They are also treated as sex objects and often become the victims of violent assault.

  • The supreme court of Pakistan has legally declared recently that transgenders have equal rights and are a normal citizen of Pakistan. The latest decision includes equality in all aspects including rights in inheritance after the death of parents, job opportunities and hiring of individuals etc. In 2009, Supreme Court also passed the order of including the category of ‘third gender’ in the national identity card form. In fact, in the last elections, many transgenders in Pakistan wrote the history by casting their vote to choose their political representative. This decision of Supreme Court was successfully presided by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr. Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhary.
  • Besides government, several non-government bodies are also taking an active interest in improving the quality of life in the transgender community. For example, one such name is Gender Interactive Alliance.
  • Although, this is perhaps the first initiative taken by Pakistani Government to safeguard the transgender rights in Pakistan, I best hope that this will bring a true change in the mindsets of people as well. It is high time we start respecting individuals based on their individuality and not our judgment of their character and sexuality.Interested in showbiz? Read more about Kapil Sharma Upcoming Movies

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Let’s talk about the importance of chastity for women!

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I happened to read an article titled Let’s talk about periods published in the known publication of Pakistan i.e. the Daily Dawn on 26th June 2018 written by Tooba Masood.

The writer articulated about her and others experience of using menstrual cups made of silicone and how they feel comfortable by using those. Also, the safe and secure cups are considered environmentally friendly.

Nevertheless, she forgot to mention that innumerable ladies here do not even have the facility of pads. And if they do, despite the mentioned afore boons of menstrual cups, they would rather want to stick to cloths because of the virginity concerns. In the said article, the writer in a very light tone was trying to say that using menstrual cups will not affect the virginity.

Searching about the concern, I happened to see a blog entitled Dear Pakistani women, a menstrual cup will not make you “lose your virginity” published in The Express Tribune Blogs on 11th March 2018, and penned by Aneka Chohan. Well, this is surely a debatable topic, I personally feel like keeping a stiff upper lip.

Coming back to my viewpoint, I would like to remind both of the writers that merely on the suspicious of illicit relationships and adultery, husbands, brothers, and fathers are slaying women around the globe on a daily basis without even knowing the truth and reality, numerous women commit suicide if they happen to lose virginity before marriage no matter what (i.e. via cycling, exercising, swimming etc) and a number of weddings have been shattered in only one night just because of virginity concerns.

Readers may recall the recent high profile case, wherein an Italian-Pakistani woman namely Sana Cheema was strangled to death by her own father, brother, and uncle for honor as the 26-year-old victim wanted to marry in Italy. Likewise, in another stance, a 19-year-old girl namely Farah was being rescued by Italian Embassy from their parents as she got pregnant by her Italian boyfriend outside marriage.

What I am trying to say is that for women, irrespective of their religion and background, virginity matters a lot. I happened to watch a show based on the hidden and forbidden realities of the world. In one of its episodes, they demonstrated how concerned fathers started marrying their own daughters to keep their virginity intact in many cities of the United States of America, which is known for being the country of practicing absolute freedom. Then, in places like Kalash  (in the north of Pakistan), Nepal and West Africa etc. women are bound to spend their menstrual days in menstrual huts, where many women died either because of snake bites or severe health conditions.

Conclusively, our newspapers and electronic media are flooded with stories of strong women who take their own decisions, choose their own professions and enjoy and practice their so-called freedom in one way or the other but the reality is just the opposite.

Majority of women, be it educated or professional, still are being dominated by their parents and siblings before their marriage and husbands afterward because this is the system of our society and no one can deny it. And if they endeavor to cross the borders, they will certainly face dire consequences.

Thus, penning about menstrual cups and promoting such tools are useless in such a conservative society and I think our Media should not publish such worthless content that is against Islamic values and would receive backlash from majority!!!!! (Aiman Inam)

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Is Pakistani youth opting for mental slavery?

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Pakistani youth

Zobia Shoaib

Pakistan happens to harbor over 5000-year-old culture and conventions: you get mesmerized upon keenly observing the breathtakingly beautiful sites, exotic attires from various regions at national fairs and festivals,  sports, food, music, and literature!

But unfortunately, both men and women here reckon it cool to blindly follow the western culture. As a result, the western attires are becoming popular, fast food is replacing the traditional dishes and ghazals and qawwali are only accepted in a remixed format.

Traditional sports like polo and sophisticated folk dances too are being replaced by the western ones.  Then instead of visiting our own historical sites like world’s largest necropolis Makli, Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa, Taxila, old fortresses, and towers etc. we prefer to go to the West.

Then the beauty of our sandy beaches, majestic mountains, golden deserts, and plains is unmatchable. For instance, Murree, hiking tracks of Shogran and Siri Paaye, Gilgit, Hunza and Chitral valleys.

Then many mentally-enslaved westernized Pakistanis feel proud claiming that their children only speak English and could not communicate in Urdu. Degradation of the national language is glaringly evident at job interviews that are almost always conducted in English.    

In the process of mental-enslavement social-media followers – forgetting their rich culture – celebrate events like Black Friday and Valentine’s Day etc.

It is high time we open own eyes and also warn our youth that shunning own rich culture will turn us into second-class imitators.  

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Colonization in post-colonialism era!

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Gone are those days when colonial powers used to subjugate domain of impotent nations so as to colonize them in 18th century.

This practice was known as colonialism, which has an affluent chronicle of the ruling, dominating and exploiting people in terms of their freedom, culture and religious beliefs.

Contrary to this, in the current 21st post-colonialism century, almost all the nations have the freedom to live their lives within their particular frontiers and no ruler could even endeavor to invade anyone’s realm.

However, colonialism does not only mean to seize territories physically. As a matter of fact, many philosophers reckon it as a modus operandi of ruling the minds of people and making them fragile mentally, spiritually, consciously and culturally.

Considering one of the most important fractions i.e. culture, it is pertinent to point out the soaring mania of using English as a medium of instruction at schools, colleges, universities and professional sphere here in lieu of our national language Urdu.

Being a teacher of one of the known systems here, I myself have witnessed copious middle schoolers, who, being bad in Urdu, score least marks in this subject.  

In fact, many of them claim to be afraid of this particular subject. Being a nation, one wonders where do we stand when it comes to teaching our kids about the importance of Urdu language.

Not to mention that parents emphasize their kids to refine their English as this is the only way to impress people here. No matter how dumb you are, just speaking in English with fluency would get you the best job in celebrated companies and institutions.

You visit any educational institution, you will find innumerable youngsters who articulate and write well in English but when it comes to communicating in their own language, they feel embarassed.

In fact, many of them do not even know how to write in Urdu and instead of feeling ashamed, they are living in their own epitome and feel proud that they are modern and educated. They are actually pretending to be English in front of Urdu speakers.

Nevertheless, we are not adopting only English language, it has also impacted our own beings particularly in terms of dressing. People are getting westernized, leaving behind their pure faiths, beliefs, and traditions.

The crux of the matter is that we are still being colonized in terms of language, which is an integral part of the culture.  Youngsters consider our national language as marginal and this concept needs to be overhauled.

Colonialism ended in the 1960s, however, Shakespeare’s mother tongue still dominates here, from educational institutions to professional milieu.

Presently, a controversy persists in the parliament of Netherlands for over admiring the significance of English while disregarding the status of their native language i.e. Dutch. In fact, approx 90 percent of the Dutch population now tends to converse in English, which poses a threat to the Dutch that is vanishing little by little.

Considering the current situation, when students no longer opt for doing masters in Dutch, the natives are of the view that they are going through languicide, the process of killing the language.

The dilemma perseveres here too as very few students choose the Urdu language as their major. History is the evidence that those nations, who have the power of money, language, culture, land and every luxury of life, have been surviving and evolving profitably than those who were being ruled upon i.e. colonialized.

Being humans of this fast pacing world, we should always embrace the diversities, nevertheless, overlooking our own national language, which is our identity, is not appropriate and is indeed startling.

Conclusively, we must preserve our national language. We should avoid overestimating the use of English language in educational institutions and instead of adoring English, we should incorporate different languages such as French, Arabic and Chinese etc in the curriculum. Only then we will be able to preserve our identity while halting colonial powers from ruling upon us as they did in Sub-Continent back in 18th century! (Aiman Inam)

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