By Naeema Siddiqui
There are estimated 2, 00,000 transgenders (third sex persons) in Pakistan. The conservative attitude of people towards the transgender community leaves them for living as beggars, street dancers and prostitutes. We enjoy human rights based on the fact that we are humans, male and female. What about the third gender? They did not choose to be what they are, just the way we ourselves did not choose our gender.
What is the third gender being punished for?
Third gender people are disliked and dishonored in Pakistan. People in Pakistan do not consider them as human beings. In the modern world, the rights given to human beings: such as the right to education, the right to respect and dignity can be enjoyed by all human beings. When we shut the doors of all these rights for the third gender that simply means we do not consider them as human beings. Why?
Don’t they need food for survival? Don’t they need respect? Don’t they need a respectable livelihood? Don’t they need a home to live in? We just snatch all of these things. Why don’t we feel that it hurts them when we treat them the way they do not want to be treated? It hurts them, when we do not let them acquire education. It hurts them; when we do not let them earn a respectable livelihood. The negative attitude and weird behavior make their lives even more difficult. In our society, there is no system of proper education for them and as a result, they are unable to earn a respectable living and therefore, this system adds more to their injury. The worst part is that these people are neglected and hated by their own family members. The society marginalizes them gratingly.
This oppression is taking place in various forms. Illegal detention, verbal and physical abuse and extortion are a few of them. It is difficult to know the exact numbers of the incidents taking place every day because there is no police record of all these crimes. The problems faced by the transgender community always go unnoticed and nobody in the society cares about them.
The Civil Law in Pakistan also ignores the third gender rights in Pakistan. Thus, it shuns the doors of education, health facilities and employment. This attitude excludes these 2, 00,000 people from the civil society of Pakistan.
These 2,00,000 people are the responsibility of the nation. Each and every individual among these people deserves the same rights as the other people in the state deserve. They do not have a right to education and if some of them show courage and go to school then nobody accepts them. It adds fuel to the fire and makes their life more miserable.
“School was a nightmare. No one wanted to sit near me in the class; I was treated like a leper. Boys used to pass rude and vulgar remarks to me. Many times, I was chased and harassed by the older students in my school,” recalled Riffi. She said, even the teachers’ attitude was no different.
Where are we taking our nation by exhibiting this kind of attitude? This is the behavior of our educated class. How can anyone survive in these kinds of situations? Here we have another example:
Hina Pathani, a 32 year old Hermaphrodite. She dances and begs for a living. She was kidnapped, raped and tortured brutally about eight months ago. “When I was walking back to my house, a group of local hustlers kidnapped me. They took all the money I had, and raped me. They cut my long hair off with a knife, threw me in the street and ran away.”
Hermaphrodites have to face this callus and deplorable attitude of people towards them every day. Hina’s case wasn’t a special one, but it was an example of the treatment of society towards them. Where do these people go for justice? Who will provide them with a peaceful environment where they can live with pride?
It is the irony of the fact that even if these people try to live a normal life, we do not let them. There are a number of examples where these people get education thinking that it might end their miseries, but they remain as pitiable as ever. Why does this happen to them? Again the culprit is the nation, its people and its system. According to the government, there has been a fixed quota of 2% for the third sex, but it is all moonshine nothing else.
How difficult does it get for a Hermaphrodite to get a degree in our society? It is more disheartening that they do not get employment even after earning a degree. We leave them with no option, but to live a life of impertinence.
What can we do? We can at least start at an individual level by treating them as human beings and realizing that they experience the same emotions as experienced by other common human beings, the emotions of happiness, sadness, anger and hate. We should not treat them the way we do. They are not robots who do not have emotions. Every life is precious and it deserves to be taken care of. Civil society can play an important role to fulfill the needs of the third gender in Pakistan by allowing them to get education without facing any prejudice and negative attitude of students and teachers alike. As a nation, we must play our part to make it less miserable for those belonging to third sex. If you cannot decrease their pain, then definitely, you do not have a right to increase it. The nation can play a key role by providing employment opportunities for the third sex so that they can earn a better livelihood for themselves and as a result they would be able to live a life with self-respect.