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SC rules: Eunuchs have equal rights

September 26, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Sept 25: Eunuchs are entitled to all the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and enjoyed by other members of society, including the right of inheritance and right to adopt any profession, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

Appreciated by representatives of eunuch-transvestites the verdict came after a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain disposed of a petition moved by the Islamic jurist Dr Muhammad Aslam Khaki seeking emancipation of hermaphrodite children to find better ways for the welfare of this segment of the society, instead of begging, dancing and prostitution.

The issue cropped up when in 2009 police arrested some eunuch-transvestites by raiding merrymakers in Taxila.

Dr Khaki picked up the idea of doing some research about the condition of such children from there and discovered that they were the most oppressed and deprived segment of the society subjected to everyday humiliation and molestation.

Dr Khaki who did some research on the conditions of eunuch-transvestites, discovered them to be the most oppressed and deprived segment of the society, subjected to humiliation and molestation and filed a petition for the welfare of the unfortunate and vulnerable people by seeking establishment of a commission to emancipate effeminate men ostracised by the society for no fault of theirs.

During previous proceedings, the court was informed that usually hermaphrodite children were abandoned and no-one cared for them in society.

Such children are handed over to gurus (eunuch leaders) at the time of their birth or at a very tender age as a result of which these children never get any chance to get education rather they get trained either to beg, dance on different occasions or forced into prostitution business.

They live in sizeable communities, divided into clans, living mostly in slums and presided over by a leader or guru and constantly denied the right of inheritance and fundamental rights as they cannot even travel openly in trains, buses or use facilities available to common citizens of the country.

Taking a lead from the apex court’s initiative on the gender confused people, a group of students from the Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad, in December 2011 had also launched a project for the creation of job opportunities for the mistreated community within the institution.

While deciding the matter the court ordered that the copy of the letters be sent to the chief secretaries as well as the inspector general police officers of the four provinces for their information and to ensure strict adherence of the fundamental rights enunciated in the constitution and enjoyed by other citizens of the country.

The top government official will make it certain that no complaint of any nature should come to marginalise the eunuch community and that they are treated like other segments of the society.

In its order, the court also appreciated the appointment of focal persons among the eunuchs for the prompt resolutions of problems being faced by the community and that the issue regarding issuance of the computerised national identity cards had also been resolved. The court stated that the petition was instituted for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the eunuchs as guaranteed by the constitution including security of life, property and inviolability of dignity of a person.

The court also noted that the federal government as well as the provincial government through respective advocate generals provided assistance and implemented directions of the court issued from time to time as a result of which the fundamental rights of the eunuchs got recognised in the society and they now are treated in a dignified manner.

The court pointed out that the eunuchs were entitled to the same respect as enjoyed by other segments of society, when in the past they were not treated at par invariably as humans.

In view of the fact that their rights are protected, the court said, eunuchs will not be deprived of their legitimate rights on the excuse of being eunuchs like the right of inheritance of all movable and immovable properties, participation in all walks of life, including education and right to adopt any kind of job.