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Transvestites win right to inheritance

ISLAMABAD: Help finally came for the transvestites when the Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered all the district administrations to assist them in getting inheritance rights after tracing their families.

A three-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, had taken up a petition moved by Islamist jurist Dr Mohammad Aslam Khaki, who had sought the establishment of a commission to emancipate hermaphrodite children and find out ways for the welfare of this segment living to beg, dance and prostitution.

The issue cropped up when police arrested some transvestites in Taxila. Dr Khaki did some research about the condition of such children and discovered that they were the most oppressed and deprived segment of the society, subjected to everyday humiliation and molestation.

Dr Khaki filed a petition for the welfare of the unfortunate and vulnerable people, seeking establishment of the commission to emancipate effeminate men ostracised by the society for no fault of theirs.

During previous proceedings, the court was informed that usually hermaphrodite children were abandoned to the world of merrymakers. Such children are handed over to gurus (transvestite leaders) at the time of their birth or at a very tender age, as a result of which these children never get any chance to get education rather they were trained either to beg, dance on different occasions or forced into prostitution.

They live in sizable communities, divided into clan groups living mostly in slums and presided over by a leader or guru and constantly denied of the right to inheritance and fundamental rights as they cannot even travel openly in trains, buses or use facilities available to common citizens.

On Wednesday, the apex court issued a number of orders, including directions to district coordination officers to trace transvestites’ families and help deprived transvestites in getting their inheritance rights; issuance of identity cards by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) after determining their gender through hormone base tests and subsequent enrolment in the voter list; and free health facilities and provisions of imparting vocational or professional education facilities. The court also suggested using the services of transvestites in the national immunisation campaigns observed to administer polio vaccine.

The court suggested to the government to follow the Indian model, wherein transvestites were employed for recovery of loans/taxes. The Indian government has employed transvestites in the state of Bihar as tax collectors since 2006.

On checking harassment at the hands of police, the bench directed the police bosses to develop some mechanism to prevent such harassment.
Source: Dawn
Date:12/24/2009

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