KARACHI: A private channel is said to have made history by hiring the country’s first transgender news anchor.
The response to the initiative by Kohenoor News could be gauged from the appreciation it received on social media by scores of people, including renowned journalists.
In an interview with Dawn.com, Lahore-based Marvia Malik revealed that she acquired a bachelor’s degree and had applied for admission to a masters of arts programme. Earlier this month, she made headlines by walking the runway at the PFDC fashion week in Lahore.
“I have received several modelling offers that I’m considering, but I want to do something for my community that I feel is way behind. So I want to strengthen my people,” she said. “Everywhere we go, a transgender person is looked down upon. But there’s nothing we can’t do; we’re educated, have degrees, but no opportunities, no encouragement. This is what I want to change. Just as I created history in the fashion industry, I want to do the same in the media industry.”
For Marvia, the determination to change her fate developed early in life. She had made up her mind as a child that she did not want to end up where her fellow transgenders did — dancing on the streets, begging, selling their bodies. Instead, Marvia said she wanted to become a journalist or a lawyer.
“I worked really hard to be where I am — worked at parlours, did odd jobs, but refused to beg or dance. I wanted to make a name for myself and eventually for my community. My family only helped me till my matriculation, but I supported myself for intermediate and graduation,” she said.
Marvia regretted that the transgender community was not given their due rights in terms of social and economic support despite several tall claims by authorities. Motivated by the cultural and political barriers, she expressed the desire to work towards a law to protect inheritance rights of transgender persons.
“Transgenders are forced to dance and beg because they have no other means to make ends meet. When they are shunned by families, they have nowhere else to go,” she said, lamenting that her trans-friends with master’s degrees had no jobs and were forced to become sex workers. “This is why I want to push for a law to enable a transgender, if disowned, to make a living out of the share in property.”
About landing the job at the news channel, Marvia said she applied when the positions were advertised and was hired the same day as her interview. “The channel management told me the same day they wanted to support me and my community,” Dawn.com reported her as saying.
According to the report, Marvia said she was receiving the same salary, perks and privileges as other news anchors at the channel, but was getting much more attention and respect than everyone else.
She expressed the belief that only one’s skill and talent should serve as criteria for job recruitment.
Speaking to Dawn.com, news director of the channel Bilal Ashraf said that Marvia’s application for the job was organic and not based on her gender.
Kohenoor News chief executive offer Junaid Mahmood Ansari said that he had never planned to take such an initiative but when they received the job application he did not see a reason why he shouldn’t give her a job if she fulfilled the criteria, the report added.