PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government may be the first in the country and even in South Asia to formulate a policy for the welfare of transgender persons but the third gender people feel ‘practical steps’ should be taken to ensure they’ve a status equal to others’ in society.

This was crux of the discussions during a consultation on the ‘need of protection policy on rights of transgender persons here on Wednesday.

The Blue Veins and Trans-Action Alliance with the collaboration of the Asia Foundation had organised the event to engage all stakeholders for providing input for the proposed policy for the welfare of transgender persons.

Members of transgender community, who attended the event in large numbers, said they wanted the government to ensure provision of basic human rights to them.

Discuss proposed policy for their welfare with stakeholders

They complained despite good initiatives by the Supreme Court, they continued to face a plethora of problems. According to transgender persons, they’re sidelined and treated as untouchables and that they’ve poor access to education, healthcare, legal aid and employment, face discrimination and lack social acceptance.

The KP government figures show there are 350 transgender persons in the province but non-governmental organisations put the number at around 50,000.

The Trans-Action Alliance said last year, 46 cases of the murder of transgender persons and some 300 violence cases.

“We are not even safe in our homes as any person without caring for our privacy barges in asking us if we’re interested in performing in a function,” said Qainaat, a matriculate transgender person, who works as a peon at a government department.

“Many transgender persons quit school after being bullied by colleagues. How they could find a good job under such circumstances,” she said.

The transgender person said the authorities promised provision of rights to her community at various forums but such promised remained unfulfilled.

Another transgender person, Chocolate, said her community’s members weren’t given protection against vulnerability when they approached the police.

“We often face violence and lack access to healthcare,” she complained.

President of the Trans-Action Alliance Farzana Jan praised the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for announcing the making of a policy to safeguard the rights of transgender persons in the province.

She said the Supreme Court’s decision had laid out a charter of possibilities for transgender rights in the country, the protection policy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would concretise the rights framework and would serve as crucial initiation of a much-needed conversation.

Member of the chief minister’s special committee on the rights of transgender community Qamar Naseem said KP would be the first province in the country and even in South Asia to have a transgender protection policy.

“We will draft the policy after consultation so that the voice of all stakeholder is reflected in it,” he said.

Mufti Shaukat of Darululoom Haqania said the life and property of all citizens in an Islamic state were considered sacred regardless of their faith.

He said Islam protected honour and didn’t allow the insulting of people or making fun of them.

“All human beings are equal in the eyes of Islam. They are distinguished from each other only on the basis of piety,” he said.

Naeem Khan, director of the social welfare department, said the proactive participation of transgender persons in all democratic spaces and systems would help them gain respect and place in the society.

He said the end to discrimination facing transgender community for centuries would require targeted interventions by the state.

Dr. Anoosh Wisal Khan of the gender studies department said discrimination was an everyday experience for transgender persons.

He said enforcement of clear laws on gender identity and expression was important part of the resolution of the problems facing transgender persons.

Adviser to the CM Mushtaq Ghani, who is also the head of the CM committee on transgender persons’ rights, said the government would try to bring improvement in the lives of transgender persons by making a policy to provide all rights to them as citizens.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2016


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