Laudable step

Transgenders get specified quota

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The Sindh government lately announced a five per cent quota for transgender folks in all government departments. Sindh Chief Minister’s Advisor on Information Senator Murtaza Wahab said “Sindh Cabinet has decided that a five per cent quota shall be fixed for transgender in all government departments.” Earlier this year, Sindh Police had announced to employ transgender people in the force. There is however no way of verifying as to how many of them have been hired and, most importantly in what capacity.

The decision is a welcome one and other provinces and the federal government should follow the suit. This shall help bring the ignored third gender into the mainstream.

While laudable, this announcement alone shall not ensure that the neglected community becomes mainstream. A very tiny segment of this section of society is lucky enough to get good education. A television channel last year employed a transgender anchorperson who has been doing good for herself and presented herself as a role model as well as an advocate for the right of her community. There is a need to build on such initiatives.

Mostly these people are disowned by their own families and discarded and left to their own devices. Transgender people live in their own closed communities and most cannot do anything other than dancing, begging and engaging in prostitution. They are jeered and ridiculed. According to the local group Trans Action, 479 attacks against transgender women were reported in Khyber-Pakhunkhwa province in 2018. At least four transgender women were killed there in 2018, and at least 57 have been killed there since 2015.

Until the apex ruled a few years ago, they did not have right to identity and were denied identity cards. Pakistan’s parliament in May last year passed a law guaranteeing basic rights for transgender citizens and outlawing discrimination by employers. The law grants individuals the right to self-identify as male, female, or a blend of genders, and to have that identity registered on all official documents, including National Identification Cards, passports, driver’s licenses, and education certificates.

The legislation provides the basic framework yet to bring them at par with others, they shall need to be educated and trained to be able to qualify for jobs other than menial jobs. This is doable. There are numerous examples in India where eunuchs are working in key positions in parliament and judiciary. We can do the same.