LARKANA: A group of transgenders representing their community in Sindh held a news conference in the local press club on Tuesday. Led by their focal person, Riffee Khan, the group called for equal rights to all their community members as enshrined in the Constitution arguing that they were citizens of Pakistan.
Riffee recalled that transgenders’ status being equal to other citizens was first recognised through the landmark ruling given in 2009 by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, but since then little progress had been made in its implementation.
She claimed that around 80,000 transgenders were deprived of their fundamental right to vote in Sindh alone because they were still facing problems in getting the computerised national identity card from the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra). “We are facing gender-based discrimination in all walks of life, Khan said.
She said transgenders were being treated like second-class citizens. Absolutely unfair treatment is meted out to us in education, health and other sectors for society as a whole does not welcome us when we seek education or medical treatment or a job in a government or private organisation, according to her.
The group urged the authorities concerned to give them equal rights during the upcoming census as they must not remain uncounted any more.
Asserting their right of vote, the group severely criticised Nadra, particularly its office in Larkana district, for not cooperating with their community, claiming that its members were not being obliged to seek their CNICs.
“For more than four years now, they have been denied their CNICs on one pretext or the other by the Nadra office, Khan said.
Identifying the particular areas where the community is facing gender-based discrimination, she said transgenders were not being listed among the beneficiaries of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and Baitul Maal despite the fact that this community deserved financial assistance the most. She said in educational institutions and job market also, transgenders qualifying on merit basis were not considered. Nor was the quota for them was being considered, she added.
“Actually society hates us,” Khan said.
She urged the Sindh government to establish a community centre for transgenders in Larkana as was done in Karachi, Sukkur and Hyderabad.
In reply to a question, she said some people within her community were found involved in unethical and illegal activities which could not be appreciated. However, she argued, such elements could be found in any community.