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Senate body slams Swat admin over transgender community

Senate body slams Swat admin over transgender community

Islamabad: Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on Friday condemned the notice issued by the Swat district administration to the transgender community for vacating the area.

Chaired by Senator Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini, the discussed the draft of ‘The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2017’ prepared by NCHR. The committee also discussed the case of members of Pakistani transgender community detained in Saudi Arabia, status of the Women Distress and Detention Bill, kidnapping of children and progress in the establishment of National Institute of Human Rights.  The committee condemned the brutal killing of student of Wali Khan University Mishal Khan.

The meeting was attended was senators, Farhat Ullah Baber, Nisar Muhammad, Sitara Ayaz, Samina Abid, Sehar Kamran, Mir Kabir Ahmed, Secretary Ministry of Human Rights, Rabia Agha Javarie, officials of government departments and human rights activists.

While discussing the draft bill ‘The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2017,’ the committee was urged to include the right of marriage in the draft bill to ensure the fundamental social right of marriage for the transgender community. It was also suggested to incorporate schooling age for transgender children in the bill for mainstreaming such children in the society. While giving suggestions on the draft bill, Qamar Naseem, a human rights activist, said that the major issue faced by the community is sexual abuse and assault. “When the victim from transgender community approach police station to register First Information Report (FIR), the police registers the case under sodomy law,” he informed the committee. He suggested that the word rape in the draft bill should be replaced with sexual assault and the punishment for sodomy shall be increased.

Senator Nisar Muhammad suggested making changes in the draft to make it according to the standards introduced in Islamic teachings. “Transgender community enjoys equal rights in Islamic teachings like other human beings,” he said. The chairperson asked to incorporate the recommendations in the draft bill and present the improved draft in the committee after four weeks.

Discussing the agenda item regarding the kidnapping of children of Mir Muhammad Anwar Zehri case referred to NCHR, the Chairperson NCHR, Justice (r) Ali Nawaz Chowhan, briefed the committee that they have issued letter and called the concerned department to explain the matter but no reply has been received so far.

The committee took notice of the callous attitude of the security agency deployed there and called their representatives in the next meeting to get briefing and sorting out the matter.

Senator Sehar Kamran raised the issue that around 2.5 million Pakistanis are based in Saudi Arabia but there are only two welfare attaches deputed in Riadh and Jaddah each. The committee asked the government to provide legal help to the members of Pakistani transgender detained in Saudi Arabia.

The committee also asked the Ministry of Human Rights and Ministry of Finance to release funds to NCHR and provide necessary assistance for establishing their office throughout the country and utilize their mandate to give relief to people at their doorstep.

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