Protection centres for transgender people to be ready by year end, NA told

Updated 11 Aug 2020

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PTI MNAs criticise govt’s handling of transgender rights. —Rana Bilal/File
PTI MNAs criticise govt’s handling of transgender rights. —Rana Bilal/File

ISLAMABAD: Protection centres for transgender people will be completed by the end of this year, the National Assembly was informed on Monday during a discussion on the harassment of transgender people across the country.

The announcement came during a discussion on a calling attention notice moved by PTI lawmakers Asma Qadeer, Nuzhat Pathan, Zille Huma, Riaz Fatyana and Nusrat Wahid inviting the human rights minister’s attention on a matter of urgent public importance: violent attacks on the transgender community across the country.

Parliamentary Secretary for Human Rights Lal Chand Malhi said this was a devolved subject, and as far as the federal capital is concerned three incidents of violence against transgender people have been reported in the city in the last three years.

He said these were murder cases and “arrests have been made and strict action has been taken against the culprits, as all are equal citizens.”

PTI MNAs criticise govt’s handling of transgender rights

Ms Qadeer disputed the figures. Without mentioning the city, she said nine cases have been reported in nine months.

“Transgender people who demand alms at traffic signals are not only harassed by the general public but also by the beggar mafia. You are saying that transgender people have equal rights, but the fact is that they are not allowed to be buried in the graveyards of the general public, they are denied admission in hospitals, etc,” she said.

Mr Malhi said transgender citizens have the right to health, inheritance and employment, adding that in 2018, a bill was passed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to protect the rights of the transgender community.

“As far as Islamabad is concerned I want to say it again that only three cases have been reported in three years. In KP 25 cases of harassment have been reported during three years. However, if you have any specific cases, share the details with me and I assure that appropriate action will be taken,” he added.

Ms Huma said that campaigns need to be run in the media and on social media to protect transgender people, adding that seats should also be allocated for transgender people in vocational institutes.

Advisor to the Prime Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan said that the present government “has taken unprecedented steps” for the protection of the transgender community.

He said transgender people have been provided assistance under the Ehsaas programme for the first time, while the prime minister has also constituted a task force which remains functional. He added that there have been a few judgements for transgender people as well, and there is a job quota for the community.

“As far as incidents of harassment are concerned, strict action is taken and cases are registered against culprits,” he said.

Mr Fatyana said it was not correct that the harassment issue is a devolved subject.

“Even after the 18th Amendment, the federal government deals with the issue of human rights and harassment is a human rights issue. Although it is correct that a law regarding transgender people was made two years ago, the rules could not be made even after two years, which is a failure. As per the law, shelter homes should be constructed for transgender people and the attitude of the police should also be improved,” he said.

Mr Malhi said that Pakistan’s transgender population is 10,400, and protection centres are being made and will be completed by the end of this year.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2020