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Supreme Court asks govt to care for transvestites

By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday virtually put transvestites in the care of the government by directing it to make their lives easier and safer.

“Eunuchs are also the citizens of Pakistan and should be given basic fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry remarked. “They are human beings and nobody has a right to hate them.”

A three-judge bench comprising the chief justice, Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmed and Justice Ghulam Rabbani had taken up a petition seeking the establishment of a commission to emancipate effeminate men ostracised by the society for no fault of their’s.

Islamist jurist Dr Mohammad Aslam Khaki, who researched into the conditions of the ignominious merrymakers and discovered them to be the most oppressed and deprived segment of the society that is subjected to humiliation and molestation, had filed the petition for the welfare of the unfortunate and vulnerable people left by the society to live by begging, dancing and prostitution.

The court ordered the federal as well as the provincial governments and the social welfare secretaries to interact with representatives of transvestites, offer them incentives like education and find respectable jobs for their social uplift to bring them into the mainstream.

For ensuring security of transvestites, the interior secretary and the provincial police officers were also ordered to appoint focal persons in districts and tehsils, and also forward copies of cases registered against them to the Supreme Court registrar, social welfare departments and the inspectors general of police. This will help safeguarding transvestites from being booked under fabricated and fake cases.

The federal and the provincial health secretaries are also required to coordinate with the representatives of transvestites to provide free of cost health facilities to them. Secretary education and Chief Commissioner Islamabad were also asked to provide education facility to them if they were interested.

The court was told that 2,167 transvestites had been registered in the Punjab, while only 56 in Balochistan’s 14 districts. Similarly, in NWFP 324 transvestites were registered, as a majority of them had left the province due to the law and order situation.

Meanwhile, in four-page suggestions for the rehabilitation of transvestites, petitioner Dr Khaki said they should be declared as women for all legal purposes and therefore should not be arrested by male police. Similarly, raid for showing vulgar dances should be conducted under the supervision of magistrates or local nazims instead of the police.

The petitioner was in favour of constituting rehabilitation committees at district level to protect transvestites from the highhandedness of police and thugs.

He also asked for setting up a commission by provincial governments to prepare recommendations and plans for their legal and social uplift. He said in the national identity card, their gender should be described as Khwaja Sara and special national identity cards like the ones for disabled persons should be issued to them.

Dr Khaki said their rights to availing public utilities like public toilets, transport compartments and hospital admissions should also be clarified.

The petitioner said small loans should be granted to transvestites to establish businesses.

The court adjourned the case for two months with a direction to provincial governments to complete registration process before the next date of hearing.
Source: Dawn
Date:8/18/2009

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