ISLAMABAD – Unlike the previous general elections in the country, transgender individuals from different areas are actively taking part in the July 25 polls with an aim to remove the label of sex workers, baggers and dancers.
Among 10,418 transvestites, four transvestites contesting from different provinces are not optimistic to win the seat but have intentions to spread a message of their equal representation in the entire segment of society.
These four candidates, after the general elections 2018, are also planning to launch a political party from all over the country.
Pakistan’s transgender population, according to the 6th population census results, stands at 10,418 — 0.005 per cent of the total population of over 207 million.
This was for the first time in the country’s history that the transgender community was counted separately by enumerators.
Sharing their ordeal specifically during the election campaign, this segment of the society was seemingly unhappy with the discouraging response from the public but determined to continue their struggle.
Maria Khan from PK-31 is set to challenge political opponents from Mansehra district. “Unknown persons have ripped my posters in my area, which is unfair,” Maria Khan lamented. The purpose of contesting the polls was to get an equal representation through the parliament. “I want to see (Transgender) to live a respectable life, as they should not only be seen begging on the roads,” said Maria Khan.
Lubna Lal contesting from PP-26 (Jhelum) is contesting the polls with the aim to serve this comparatively weak segment of the society. “It is my mission to raise voice for transgender as they are not getting equal rights including jobs quota etc,” said Lal, who was the only member of Eunuch contested in election 2013.
Nadeem Kashish contesting from NA-53, Islamabad has the aim to launch a country’s level political party after the general elections. “Our party will not only give a space to eunuchs but males and females can also be members of it,” said Kashish, mentioning that the purpose of participating the elections was to give representation to transvestite community.
“No matter the heavyweights, including Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Imran Khan, are contesting from this area (NA-53), as the purpose is to show our representation,” said a transgender candidate from NA-53.
The candidate from this constituency said it was a bit hard to manage expenditure for contesting the polls. “I am bearing expenditure from my salary and with some community members,” said the contestant.
Another eunuch Ali is contesting from Okara for the National Assembly seat (NA-142).
Julie Khan long term observer (from Islamabad) said that the national parties have not mentioned a single line about the transgender. “We (Eunuch) have to fight for our rights in the given circumstance in order to remove the label of sex workers, beggars, prostitutes, dancers, ” Julie Khan.
A political analyst Mudasir Rizvi viewed that the participation of four transgender persons in the elections 2018 is an encouraging sign. “It is encouraging as four transgender in this society have dared to take part in the elections,” he added. Rizvi pointed out that there was no separate column for transgender in the nomination papers. “There are only two columns of male and female,” he said.
The statistics show that 74 per cent of the transgender population lives in urban areas and rest of them lives in the rural parts of the country. Whereas, the country’s male and female population stands at 106 million and 101 million respectively.
Further details show that 6,709 transgender people live in Punjab; 2,527 in Sindh, 913 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), 133 in Islamabad, 109 in Balochistan and 27 in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
Forum for Dignity Initiatives- FDI has also organised consultations and dialogues with transgender community members and chalked out a charter of demands for general election 2018 in Pakistan.
The charter demands human rights, protection, economic empowerment, education and social security. With other basic rights, the charter demands all parties to encourage transgender persons to take an active part in the polls.
The Supreme Court in its ruling in 2011 has given transgender people the right to vote and to attain a NIC of their own.
In 2009, the Supreme Court had passed the order of including the category of ‘third gender’ in the national identity card form.