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Transgenders help polio drives succeed in certain areas, SLF told

Transgenders help polio drives succeed in certain areas, SLF told

KARACHI: At a session on Saturday, the second day of the Sindh Literature Festival on the plight of transgenders in the country, a participant said it was her ability to dance and Sindh`s culture where people were relatively better behaved with the community that helped polio immunisation in the areas where it was not possible before.

`We are the wretched and the wounded people on earth, yet people here in Sindh do not dislike us tothe level that people in our community face in other regions,` said Sanam Faqir at the session titled `We are also humans` moderated by journalist Shabbir Soomro.

She said her community had worked to their capacity to help the people affected by the `super flood` that had ravaged most districts of Sindh with several other regions in Pakistan in 2010. `Our groups went in the flood-affected areas and helped people who were in distress.

We showed to the world that we are also human beings and could feel the pain of other humans.

She said there were several areas in Sukkur and adjoining districts where many tribes had refused to get their children inoculated against polio.

`A senior health official of that area spoke to us and asked us to help them in getting those, who were refusing to vaccinate theirchildren, persuaded to cooperate with the polio teams.

`We took our dhols and musical instruments and went to the places where people were not cooperating with the polio teams. We danced there;entertained those people and administered their children with pollo vaccine.

She said being the land of Sufis and Faqirs, people in Sindh paid respect to transgenders much more than they got elsewhere.

`The respect which these people accord to us was the reason they did not refuse us inoculating their children against polio,` said Sanam Faqir.

Passion for cricket She said like every other Pakistani, transgenders too were passionate about playing cricket.

`To give them an opportunity toplay this game, I made up a cricket team comprising players from five northern districts of Sindh and got them trained by a good player in Sukkur. With the cooperation of the social welfare department, we arranged a match of our team with male players of those areas in Sukkur and won that tie.

Sanam also took part in the 2013 general election and came sixth on election on a provincial assembly constituency while competing against 49 male candidates.

Zehrish Khan said despite leading in making laws, Sindh was way behind Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in implementing them.

She said her community`s voice was being heard to some extent, yet, behaviour of society was as atrocious towards them as ever.

`In a previous election, the returning officer made a mockery of us when we appeared before him to file our nomination papers. The fact is that we still don`t get an opportunity.

Politicians`apathy Even political parties, she added, had no qualms to do good for the community as no party had cited them in their manifestos.

Sapna Rajput`s family in Sargodha found her as a transgender when she was in 10th grade, and forced her to leave her home.

`My family there did not accept me; but the people of Sindh accepted me with my identity and my miseries, she said.

Shilpa also had to leave her home after passing matriculation. She said her community did not cry much as they got immune to the miseries they came across dayin day out.

She asked the government to arrange for some place where transgenders could easily reside, as `we don`t get homes easily.

Owners deny renting them out to us, and even [if] they allow us to reside, they charge us double the money` Shahzadi Rai said evenpolice did not know that a law for the protection of transgenders had been passed a decade earlier.

She said the community endured violence and sexual assault daily.

Indigenous people On a session on the indigenous people in the country, particularly in Sindh, the participants said they belonged to the marginalised communities, which were almost indistinct on the spectrum of the people living in the mainstream.

`It is a long war where you have to cope with the injustices and violence every day, and if you are a woman as well, you are bound to face greater hardships,` said Radha Kohli.

`But rest assured, the sun definitely sets, we don`t.

Ram Oad said the progressive and other parties hadignored the indigenous people. The left had failed to champion the cause of the indigenous people unlike those in other countries; while the mainstream parties treated those people only as their constituents,` he added.

Ishaq Mangrio, who moderated the proceedings, said in the age of globalisation, the languages and cultures of those fading com-munities were in immense danger, and strategies should be devised to save such cultures. He said Khurshid Qaimkhani was the only writer who documented those communities in his books and articles in English, Urdu and Sindhi.

Kabir Jogi said the marginalised communities be given space and opportunities that they had been denied so far.

Phuloo Menghwar, Gulan Shikaran and Harish Saami also spoke and highlighted problems their communities were facing.

In a session on the future of progressive politics, moderated by Wusatullah Khan, Ayaz Latif Palijo, Lal Khan, Ghinwa Bhutto and Bushra Gohar spoke on various issues.While Bushra Gohar said the political parties had surrendered to the state, young activists had little space and motivation to resist, others said such a situation needed greater will by the political leaderships. They said because of pessimism of the political parties, extremist forces got space to thrive.

Noorul Huda Shah hoste d the session that was held to pay tribute to Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi. Dr Riaz Shaikh played hostin a session in which Dr Mubarak Ali spoke on `The greatest lies of history`.

Sessions on writers who have passed away, makers of Karachi, Indus River, and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor were also held.

Dawn

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